The cries of ‘favouritism’, ‘bias’, ‘cheating’, ‘foul play’, ‘cheating’ were all over in India, starting from the boxing arenas of Incheon. No one could believe some of the results in boxing. The decisions reeked of favouritism towards the host nation. Asian Games is the second big event after the Olympics when it comes to multi-sporting events and incidents such as these not only take the sheen of the host nation’s pride but also put the credibility of the governing body at stake as well.
The controversy regarding the bouts of Sarita Devi Laishram and Devendro Singh Laishram took an uglier turn today. Sarita Devi who won a bronze medal after losing the semi final due to biased umpiring, returned her bronze medal today and lodged a protest against the result. The result notwithstanding, she had to suffer even more heartbreak as the India officials deserted her and she had to borrow the $500 from a journalist to pay the fee for lodging the protest.
Here’s what exactly happened:
On 30th September, the 11th day of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, Sarita Devi was up against Jina Park of South Korea in the semi-final where she fought an evenly contested first round as both the boxers were up to the task. But the judges gave that round 30-27 in the favour of Korean. In the next round, Sarita Devi bounced back by throwing a flurry of clear punches, jabs and upper cuts. The Korean boxer was totally outplayed and even the crowd had a disappointed look at their faces. Devi was declared the winner, but the margin of 29-28 was very surprising. It was in the third and the fourth round that things got ugly. Sarita Devi, clearly being the more dominant boxer lost both rounds 28-29 and 27-30. She couldn’t control her tears and started crying at the injustice. Devi’s husband Thoiba Singh was so frustrated that he let off a volley of verbal abuse at the officials. Devi herself sarcastically applauded the jury before leaving the ring.
Boxer Devendro Singh Laishram, competing in the Quarter finals of Men’s Flyweight category (46-49 Kg) versus Shin Jhongun of South Korea, received a similar fate as well. It was shocking for the crowds present in the arena and as well as for the commentators. The decision was welcomed by a series of boos as well.
This was not it. There was another unexpected result in boxing. This time from the Men’s Bantamweight category quarterfinal, Mongolian boxer Tugstsogt Nyambayar looked to have convincingly beaten his South Korean opponent Sangmyeong Ham. But once again, the Korean was awarded a miraculous 3-0 victory.
The questions such incidents raise are, ‘What about the credibility of the governing body?’, ‘What about the subjective scoring system? Which can be easily manipulated?’ and ‘What if such practices are carried on by each host nation in not only the Asian Games, but other events such as the Olympics and CWG as well?’
Such biased refereeing not only sets a bad precedent but is also a kind of injustice to the hard work, determination, dedication and sacrifices of player. Not only that, but it affects their morale as well. The scenes of Sarita Devi crying like a child on the podium are very disheartening for a sports fan irrespective of the nation he belongs to.
The Olympic Council of Asia needs to look into this issue at the earliest and impose heavy penalties on the judges to ensure there is no such bias. But the Indian government officials need to play an even bigger role by supporting both the boxers fully and helping them lodge the complaints. The very fact that Sarita Devi had to borrow the money to lodge the complaint is very sad indeed, and makes us; the Indian fans lose all kind of hope in the Indian officials.
Last, but not the least, we the fans should back our athletes wholeheartedly and should always back them irrespective of the fact that they have won a medal or not. These athletes play with more passion and ambition that we can imagine and judging their commitment on the basis of medals, are just unfair.