Olympians Are Being Disqualified for Some Wild Reasons

Five female ski jumpers were disqualified for wearing uniforms that were too loose, raising questions about gendered double standards in uniform requirements.

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Olympians Are Being Disqualified for Some Wild Reasons
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The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing have been underway for just under a week and athletes are already being disqualified for the absolute dumbest of reasons.

This year’s games were shrouded in controversy from the start, between an ongoing pandemic raising continued safety concerns about extensive international travel and calls to boycott the Olympics over the mysterious circumstances surrounding Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai. Adding further insult to injury? A series of questionable calls and disqualifications that have since inspired even more frustration and pushback.

On Tuesday, five female competitors set to participate in the mixed team ski jump final were disqualified due to uniform violations. Specifically, their jumpsuits had been deemed too loose, which officials said could give them an unfair advantage over competitors in more fitted suits. One of the five eliminated women—who hailed from Japan, Austria, Germany and Norway respectively—didn’t mince words on how she felt. Katharina Althaus of Germany told Reuters: “We were looking forward to the second competition at the Olympics. [The International Ski Federation] destroyed that with this action… That is how you destroy nations, development, and the entire sport.”

2022 marked the first time the mixed team ski jumping event was even included at the Winter Olympics, and countries competing in the event were required to enter two men and two women. Notably, all of the eliminated competitors were women. Seems weird for this to happen at a time when more and more female athletes around the world are protesting rigid, gendered double standards in uniform requirements!

Another disqualified female ski jump competitor, Silje Opseth of Norway, told reporters she had worn the same jumpsuit to compete days earlier on Saturday, and officials hadn’t raised any issues with her uniform then. Smells like bullshit to me.

Outside of the ski jump, short-track speed skating has also involved multiple controversial disqualifications. After narrowly finishing second in the women’s four-team semifinal heat last week, Team USA was disqualified when officials reviewed video footage and said an American skater had blocked a Chinese skater at one point as the Chinese skater was being tagged into the relay race. Team USA’s Maame Biney said the call was “interesting,” but conceded that “it is what it is.”

Shortly after the disqualification of Team USA in the women’s four-team semifinal heat, two Korean athletes were disqualified from the men’s 1000m short track speed skating event on Monday. In a similar case to what had resulted in Team USA’s disqualification, officials said the Korean skaters had come into contact with other skaters because of an “illegal late pass.” The disqualifications have since prompted some pretty sharp criticism on social media.

And as of Thursday, the women’s figure skating competition has been rocked by revelations that Russia’s Kamila Valieva, who won gold in this week’s women’s team figure skating event, allegedly failed a drug test in December that had only come to light this week. Amid speculation about the failed drug test and Valieva’s alleged use of trimetazidine, a drug that can boost athletes’ endurance and blood efficiency, officials called off the teams’ medal ceremony for Valieva, the US (silver), and Japan (bronze) on Tuesday, citing “legal issues.”

According to the Russian Figure Skating Federation, however, Valieva is not currently under an Olympic suspension, meaning she’s still set to compete in the women’s single competition beginning on Tuesday next week. It’s worth noting Valieva and her teammates are technically competing on behalf of the Russian Olympic Committee and not Russia. The move is a result of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s 2019 decision to ban Russia from formally competing in major sporting events for the country’s long history of state-sponsored doping.

Sports fans have long known that doping and disqualifications are all too common at the Olympics. Just last summer in Tokyo, American track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson was suspended for smoking weed shortly after her mother’s death, barring her from competing in the Olympics and sparking global outrage. Other women’s track and field athletes around the world were banned from competing due to higher testosterone levels, and Brianna McNeal, an American runner who participated in the 2016 Olympics, was suspended from competing for missing a drug test shortly after she had an abortion.

Before the Olympics conclude on Feb. 20, there are plenty of highly anticipated competitions in figure skating, hockey, snowboarding, and other sports to come—as well as possible updates on the status of Russia’s Kamila Valieva. Will there be more controversial calls from officials? It seems all but certain.

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