By Devin McCarthy and Warren Hays
On July 29, 2012, Jordyn Wieber of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team failed to qualify for the women's individual event competition at the 2012 London Olympics.  She scored 0.233 points lower than her closest competitor, fellow U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas, for fourth place out of 60 total competitors from 42 countries.  Yet an Olympic rule instituted in 2004 specifies that only the two top-scoring gymnasts from any one country may qualify for the 24-competitor final round of the individual competition, controversially ending the medal hopes of Jordan Wieber, who had been heavily favored to win the gold.

While the spirit of inclusion is important to maintain in the Olympics, this rule does little to achieve that end. No country had more than three competitors in the overall event, so there was no risk that one country would completely dominate the final round. At most, only 12.5% of the 24 final round competitors could have come from one team. 

This year, three gymnasts other than Wieber failed to qualify for the finals because they finished behind two teammates, from Russia, Great Britain, and China. Meanwhile, the two gymnasts with the lowest scores who qualified as a result of the rule hailed from Japan and Australia--both of which already had competitors in the final round anyway. Effectively, this means that while the U.S. should have had three competitors in the finals and Australia one, they each ended up with two despite the clearly superior American performance. 

The all-around individual women's gymnastics will be an inferior competition because Wieber is excluded. The rule that allowed this to happen should be scrapped. It is not only unnecessary in an event which would regardless include a wide variety of countries, but also decreases the legitimacy of the contest in determining the best female gymnast in the world. 
12/15/2021 02:48:43 am

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