DOHA, February 15, 2016 - FIG President Bruno Grandi is confident Gymnastics has managed to sweep away any doubts about the validity of judging going into this summer's Rio Olympic Games.
The sport's coherent code of points and improved accuracy in judging has left the FIG President "serene" as Rio approaches, Grandi told assembled sports media at the 79th International Sports Press Association (AIPS) Congress Wednesday in Doha.
"We have had the pleasure of seeing Gymnastics become one of the three 'top-tier' Olympic sports. For me, as President of the International Federation, this is the equivalent of a gold medal," Grandi said. "This success is the fruit of a labor undertaken several years ago in order to assure the credibility of our sport and what I like to call 'sportive justice.'
"We already had the 'perfect 10' in Gymnastics, the 10 that made Nadia Comaneci famous 40 years ago. Everyone loved the 10 because it was the symbol of perfection. But the 10 was in fact restrictive, because it did not permit the judges to separate the difficulty level of exercises and the quality of their execution. We saw that the system had reached its limits at the Athens Olympics in 2004."
Sportive justice also depends on the honesty and competence of the judges, Grandi added. "Competence is built through education," he said. "We have improved our judges’ courses and brevet system in order to assure that all judges have the level of excellence required for international competitions." Additionally, FIG partner Longines has developed a tool that allows judges to immediately re-watch exercises and verify results in case of contested scores.
Moreover, "during this last Olympic cycle, we have established a system for evaluating judges," Grandi added. "After each World Championships, the scores of each judge are analyzed using different criteria. The system is very complex, but it allows us to identify the outliers among the scores, and the judges who give them."
While a few judges were sanctioned for errors in 2015, the excellence of the vast majority has also been recognised. Those who will judge at the Rio Olympics have been selected based on longstanding records of fairness in judging. "They are thereby not chosen by their federations, but because of the work they have done," Grandi said.
Grandi also took the opportunity of being before the sports media in Doha to urge them to cover the sport more during non-Olympic years. “This historic sport, which has been part of every Olympic Games since 1896, is thriving,” he said. “And I hope that in Rio this summer, as well as before and after the Games, you will highlight the performances of the exceptional gymnasts whom we have the privilege of watching perform.”
The full text of President Grandi's speech at the 79th AIPS Congress is available here.