Did you see the curious events surrounding the final point totals in the Men's Gymnastics competition on Monday? The favored Japanese mens team was dangerously close to not winning the gold medal. In fact, the highly-ranked Japanese team was teetering on missing out winning any medal until their team handed a fistful of cash to the judges.
It sounds dicey, but believe it or not nothing untoward or illegal was happening.
In Olympic competition, you can file an appeal to have your performance reviewed and possibly see your score changed. However, filing an appeal requires cash payment before the judges will review anything. And if you lose the appeal, you lose the cash.
Following the performance and scoring of three-time world champion, Kohei Uchimura on the pommel horse, Japan filed an appeal (with cash in hand), asking that the judges to review the scoring on Uchimura's dismount. A review was completed, the score upgraded by 0.70. That slight increase was enough to move Japan from 4th place into second, giving them the silver medal. (It must be noted that after a successful review, all cash is returned to the team/person petitioning the judges. Losing an appeal means the money is forfeited.)
Watch this YouTube clip of the event:
In a way, the IOC's policy has some similarities to the NFL's policy of giving coaches a limited number of video replay reviews. In the case of professional football, teams are penalized with the loss of a time out if their appeal is denied. They don't post a cash deposit, but each appeal effectively puts a valuable time out at risk.
The requirement of a cash payment before an appeal is filed does feel a tad creepy to most folks we surveyed in the Blaze newsroom. However, we also understand that adding a potential monetary penalty to the appeal process probably prevents endless appeals from being filed. One Blaze editor suggested that the cash stipulation should be replaced by the possibility of a reduced score if the appeal is not successful. Do you have a better idea / suggestion? Feel free to comment below.