Former IOC member Dick Pound was “puzzled” Friday by the criticisms leveled against the International Olympic Committee’s members over an error in the scoring of the short track women’s 500-meter relay heat at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The original call by the scorer, Jan Magnusson, seemed to allow the Chinese to take victory from Norway in the heat, followed by Russia, going onto win gold in the relay.
That caused the IOC to have the video review in which Norway was declared to have finished first — but not because of the incorrect run-off, which was ruled legal, but because of a new counting procedure dictated by the ruling of the IOC president, Thomas Bach. The new system had been instituted to prevent the repetition of controversial calls such as in the Men’s 4×100-meter relay final of the 2008 Beijing Games, which saw Russia make the win official after the Americans protested to the judges, calling for the athletes to be declared losers.
Asked Friday about the outcry over the egregious scoring decision, Pound, the Montreal-based lawyer who also served as the IOC’s president from 1998 to 2002, said the Olympic village seems small when you watch the game.
“Every day the kids are out there yelling,” Pound said. “When you see some of the heartbreak that everyone experienced, when they see the hand-off, it’s not interesting to them. It’s like, ‘Come on, that is exciting.’
“The scoring system is exactly the same. They could have done a better job coaching the kids, and the scorers, but we’re just here to enjoy these medals and the rush. I mean, when do they go to work?”
Pound, a lawyer, rose to prominence in 1987 after he led an investigation that revealed fraudulent financial dealings surrounding the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. In recent years, he has advocated for a simplified Olympic voting system, saying there should be three candidates for each presidential position and therefore all votes should be counted on a first-past-the-post basis, rather than the current system, which uses a complex tiebreaker process.
He also is part of a committee being led by Bach that will make recommendations to reform the Olympic Games organizing committees.