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Netizens slam IAAF decision to allow US relay re-run

By Chen Heying (Global Times)    10:41, August 20, 2016

The US controversially qualified for the women's 4x100 meter relay final at the Rio Games on Thursday, knocking China out of the last eight, which drew Chinese netizens' ire and made them question whether the decision to allow them to re-run their qualifying race alone was impartial.

Competing alone, the US team clocked 41.77 seconds at the Olympic stadium, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday.

The reigning champions appealed against the result of their morning heat, in which Allyson Felix bungled the second baton exchange, arguing that the four-times Olympic gold medalist had been bumped by a Brazilian athlete before the handover, according to Reuters.

The appeal was upheld and the Americans were given a target of beating 42.70 seconds to qualify for the final in place of China, who were the slowest of the original finalists.

The Chinese team unsuccessfully appealed against the American appeal. The Chinese team believed that allowing the US team to run alone again was a great injustice, since they put in an excellent performance without competition or distraction by other teams, which is considerably different from the other teams' experience in race conditions, Xinhua reported.

In previous races, even if athletes were bumped into by other athletes, rarely is a decision given to nullify the results of those who impeded others, whether intentionally or not, the Chinese athletics team said Friday.

It cited former Olympic hurdles champion Liu Xiang's case as an example. Although Dayron Robles of Cuba was ruled to have made contact with Chinese rival Liu during the men's 110 meters hurdles final at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea in 2011, losing the gold medal, Liu still only won the silver after his appeal was accepted by the International Association Of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

The IAAF dismissed the Chinese team's second appeal at the Rio Games after the US team completed its re-run. The Chinese team pointed out that it was improper to be disqualified for the final after being granted the qualification, Xinhua reported.

The USA runners will join arch-rivals Jamaica, Britain, Germany, Ukraine, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago and Canada in Friday's final, according to Reuters.

"The IAAF can cancel the results of the Brazilian team … However, giving the US team a chance to compete alone on the track is groundless and preposterous. The decision is an unprecedented huge joke," Feng Shuyong, deputy director of Chinese Athletics Association, posted on Tencent Weibo on Friday morning.

"We wish the IAAF would clarify certain ambiguous rules … to avoid frequent controversies. The track and field competitions will fall into disorder if other teams follow suit and appeal for a re-run," read a Xinhua commentary.

Most netizens expressed their support, saying the decision is unfair. More than 50,000 mostly critical or sarcastic comments were left on a Sina Weibo post from China Central Television's Sports Channel as of Friday.

"Just award the gold medal to Uncle Sam directly. What's the significance of competition?" Sina Weibo user Nam_JHgy commented on Friday.

However, Wang Lin, an adviser to the Chinese National Athletics Team and professor at the Beijing Sport University, said that the IAAF decision is understandable in spite of a lack of precedent.

"It is in accordance with the IAAF's pursuit of humanizing rules to try to create an opportunity for each athlete," Wang told the Global Times on Friday.

"That all the teams need to race again except the Brazilians is more acceptable. Nevertheless, the IAAF may take into consideration the chance to recall all the teams before making such a decision, which minimized the impact on the other teams by allowing the US team to run alone," Chen Weiqiang, chief referee in the track and field competitions at the Beijing Olympic Games and professor at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Friday.

Ren Hai, an Olympic studies expert with Beijing Sport University, took a step back, asking "Is running alone definitely beneficial to the US performance?"

Competition, on the contrary, is conducive to motivating athletes, he told the Global Times on Friday.

He suggested Chinese people should be more tolerant.

"Among all the diversified international arenas, there are many conflicts between China and other countries. The Olympic Games provides China an ideal platform to demonstrate inclusiveness and peace-loving," Ren said. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor: Yuan Can,Bianji)

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