Indian athletes at the Asian Games 2023 were mired by several controversies surrounding the officials in the Games. This included India’s star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and 100m hurdler Jyothi Yarraji.
Here is all you need to know on the top five controversies surrounding the Indian athletes and officials at the Asiad-
Jyothi Yarraji(100m hurdles)
Chinese athlete Yanni Wu, who was in lane 4, had a false start in the women’s 100m hurdles final but to everyone’s surprise, the officials showed the disqualified card to India’s Jyothi Yarraji, who was in the adjacent lane.
The Indian national record holder protested and sought to check the replays herself. After the Indian protested, the officials checked again and corrected their decision, reinstating Jyothi and DQing Wu instead.
That led to Wu protesting and seeking permission to run under protest, which is allowed by rule, and finished second while Jyothi finished third, provisionally taking bronze. However, the final result sheet disqualified Wu while Jyothi was awarded silver.
While Wu herself appeared adamant on protesting, Chinese athletics officials were seen dissuading her near the Technical Information Centre, eventually convincing and taking her away.
Later, the Chinese athlete apologised to Yarraji. “To the Indian player Jyothi Yarraji, who was next to me, there was a misjudgement and I’m really sorry,” she wrote on Chinese social media website Weibo.
Neeraj Chopra and Kishore Jena (Javelin Throw)
Neeraj Chopra questioned the track and field officiating at the Asian Games 2023 after he was asked to re-attempt his first throw during the javelin throw final.
Chopra’s first throw was massive and looked close to 87m, but it wasn’t measured, and he had to re-throw. “Something happened at the other end, and they didn’t measure it properly. The next athlete threw quickly after me and then they lost the mark,” Neeraj said.
“For a while they kept searching for the point of landing. I then went and asked officials what happened. I knew it was a good throw, I’ll look at the videos to see how far it might have gone but it felt good. I protested but it was breezy and other athletes were cooling down and it was becoming unfair to them. They then offered me a re-throw and I accepted,” he explained but there was no official clarity on what exactly happened out on the field.
Shortly after, Kishore Kumar Jena was wrongly flagged for an illegal attempt for going beyond the permitted run-up space. Upon protest, the attempt was deemed fair and the distance counted.
In Jena’s case, his second throw was first declared a foul, which both athletes insisted was fair, before deeming it legal after protests. “We try to give 100 percent in every throw but sometimes things go wrong. In the 2nd throw, they called foul saying I had touched the line but I had not, I don’t think they checked properly. I have never seen anything like this anywhere ever, not even at a domestic level or small competitions in India,” Jena said.
Despite the early hiccup, Chopra and Jena kept their calm to set off a tug off between them for the gold-medal spot. With his third attempt of 86.77 metres, Jena overtook the World champion.
Chopra, however, reclaimed the spot on the fourth asking, clearing a distance of 88.88 metres, also his season best, while Jena got his personal best at 87.54 metres.
Indian men’s Kabaddi Final (India vs Iran)
The men’s kabaddi final between India and Iran took a dramatic turn right in the dying moments of the match at the Asian Games 2023.
With just over a minute remaining, India’s Pawan Sehrawat went in for a do-or-die raid with scores level at 28-28. Pawan went out of bounds without making contact with any Iranian defenders. During the raid, right before the attempt to dash him out was made, Amirhossein Bastami stepped out of the mat, therefore ruling out his ability to tackle the opposition’s raider. He stepped back, knowing the rule. Four other defenders tried to nudge Pawan out of the mat on the right flank.
Officials initially gave a point each to India and Iran – India benefiting from Bastami stepping out and Iran benefitting from Pawan going out of bounds. India contested the point citing the sports rules where defenders who go out of bounds without a touch will be considered out.
The resulting argument ended in the final being suspended with players sitting on the mat in protest. India’s coach, E Bhaskaran and captain Pawan were seen furiously arguing with referees and the jury panel, with general confusion about the rules in play. Eventually, the game resumed, after a delay of over an hour, and India won gold courtesy a 33-29 win over Iran.
Murali Sreeshankar(Long Jump)
In his fourth attempt, Murali Sreeshankar landed on the footboard too close to the yellow line, touching it would be deemed as a foul.
Deja-vu struck as a similar instance took place with his best-jump at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. However, what struck the spot for viewers was that the previous athlete, who had his foot in a similar position to that of Sreeshankar was given a white flag almost immediately after watching the venue camera.
However, it was only after Sreeshankar went to the officials to recheck the jump and after a good five minutes of deliberation, the jump was deemed legal at 8.19m. It was 3cm short of China’s Wang Jianan, who went on to win gold. Sreeshankar with his 8.19m won silver.
Bhavani Devi registered an impressive series of five wins in the morning to enter the knockout stages of the women’s sabre individual fencing event before bowing out to local favourite Yaqi Shao 15-7 in the quarterfinals.
The Chinese, who has also been a training partner for Bhavani, won 15-7, racing to a 7-2 lead in the first period even before Bhavani could find her footing.
She questioned some of the early decisions from the referee, even challenging them early on.
“The one thing I have learnt is that I need to work on my speed and distance with different opponents,” Bhavani said. She admitted that she let the (referee’s) decisions affect her concentration, and that was something she would work on in the coming competitions.