The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) is managing to cast off the harassment of judging debacle after introducing the instant replay system to the Aarhus gymnastics worlds to assist settling the scoring dispute.
Until recently, judging in gymnastics was a closed affair with very little recourse for gymnasts who felt that they had received an unfair score. Now things are different. A new digital instant replay system has made judging more transparent and also preserves each and every exercise for posterity on DVD that every one can buy.
The system is called IRCOS and was developed by Longines in response to the problems at the Olympic Games in 2004 where a major judging error scarred the reputation of artistic gymnastics.
It took a year for Longines to develop the system where exercises are recorded on camera and immediately transmitted to computers that judges can consult - frame by frame if necessary - when assessing the exercise. Eight staff are needed to operate the system that has one camera trained on each apparatus and two on the vault.
Replay system encourages fairness. The system is meant to improve the process of judging but it also makes it more transparent, explained Francesco Darez who is supervisor of field for Longines.
"Before this system it was only possible to review exercises if they had been shown on television. Only finals were shown on television, never qualifications. Now the judges know that the judging process is recorded from the first day to the last medal and that will oblige them to be more fair," Darez said.
Canadian team challenged the judging three times at qualifications, and the Canadian coach Tony Smith said he felt the complaint had been handled fairly.
"They watched it in slow motion. They showed it to us and they explained it" he said.
It can be used to improve the training of judges both in the short and the long term and has already been used by the technical committee who has reviewed judgments during days of qualification. It can also be used by gymnasts who want to evaluate their own performance and that of competitors.