Credibility of Olympic Movement tested in 2012

Beijing, Jan 1 (IANS) The credibility of the Olympic Movement was called into question in 2012 again when a string of scandals and controversies hit the London Olympics.

Starting with a ticket sale scandal and ending with a voting violation, the Games were not just a test of ability but also a test of the ideals, reports Xinhua.

Even before the extravaganza begun, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suffered an embarrassment when Sunday Times reported that committee officials and ticket agents in several countries were caught selling tickets in the black market for almost 10 times their value. The IOC was quick to launch an investigation.

After five-months, the IOC ethics commission ruled that six officials from Greece, Lithuania, Malta and Serbia "helped tarnish the reputation" of Olympics by selling tickets in the black market and ordered the concerned National Olympic Committees (NOC) "to take the appropriate measures" against their officials or face action.

IOC promised to overhaul its system of allocating tickets for the 2016 Rio Games to avoid a repeat.

However, the most controversial incident during the Games was the disqualification of eight female badminton players from China, South Korea and Indonesia, on deliberately losing group matches to get a more favourable draw in the knock-out stages.

Though, some argued that it's alright to lose on purpose in the pursuit of ultimate victory, Badminton World Federation (BWF) secretary general Thomas Lund said: "The rules say you have to win every match and that doesn't mean you throw some matches and win other matches."

But the BWF had itself to blame for the change in competition format: from a knock-out event to a round-robin stage followed by knock-outs.

Aware of the danger of being dropped from the Olympics after 2016, the BWF decided in November to change the doubles rules. In future, following the group stages, all pairs finishing second would be placed into a second draw to determine the knock-outs.

This farce wasn't the only controversy to mar the Olympics.

Eyebrows were raised when 16-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen knocked five seconds off her personal best in the 400-metre individual medley. She even swam the final 50m of the freestyle leg of her 400m medley faster than the winner of the men's race, sparking biased speculation which rebounded back as voices defended her displays and drug tests proved that she was clean.

Officiating was not up to Olympic standards.

British cyclist Philip Hindes admitted immediately after the men's team sprint that he deliberately crashed in an earlier round because he did not like the start he had.

The British team eventually won the restarted race. The International Cycling Union (UCI) said they were aware of Hindes's remarks but insisted the result of the qualifying race "was not in question" and the IOC said it would not investigate.

The closing scandal involves lollipops.

Two of four candidates who were elected to the IOC's athletes' commission were disqualified for breaching election rules. Both were Olympic gold medallists - Japanese hammer thrower Koji Murofushi and Mu-Ye Chu, a Chinese Taipei taekwondo athlete.

Chu was accused of handing out sweets to athletes and Murofushi accused of distributing promotional material to athletes at the Olympic Village dining hall.

While there were other controversies including a couple of positive drug tests and brand protection, the Games, dubbed by IOC president Jacques Rogge as "happy and glorious Games", had much to brag about.

History was made as all NOCs brought women athletes, setting a new benchmark.

In Atlanta 1996 there were 26 NOCs that came without women. In Beijing 2008 three -- Qatar, Brunei and Saudi Arabia. Now, that was a part of the past as both Brunei and Qatar selected female flag bearers at the Opening Ceremony. Also in a first, women competed in every sport.

Meanwhile, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and US swimmer Michael Phelps lit up the Olympic Park.

Bolt became the first man to win back-to-back Olympic title trebles in the men's 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay. Phelps created history when he won four golds to take his life-time medal haul to 22, including 18 golds, making him the most decorated Olympian.

The global economic slowdown had an impact at the Games but IOC's financial situation remains solid with reserves of $558 million. In addition, $722 million have already been generated for the 2017-20 period.

Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul are narrowing the fight to host the 2020 Games with the decision due next July in Buenos Aires, where Rogge will also end his 12-year tenure.

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