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We stand against “Protest restrictions” in figure skating

Please help us. Please support us. We are fighting against the unfair figure skating judging system.

Lots of cheers, stuffed dolls, and flowers, and then many puzzled faces ….

We are a group of figure skating fans called “Sochi 123” and will work until the last day of the Sochi Olympics to protest against the ISU Rule 123, paragraph 4, “Protest restrictions”. 

Figure skating is becoming less and less popular in many countries except Japan.  Do you know why?  The reason is because of the unaccountable judging system.  The scores are too puzzling for even old figure skating fans, and the result is often far different from what such fans think. Whenever such things happen, it’s sad that we have seen many skaters who looked shocked about their scores and soon their face turned to depression and disappointment.

The figure skating judging system has a fatal flew unless which the judges can stay anonymous despite the fact that this is a scoring sport based on the judges’ evaluation. This means they give up their duty and accountability, which is critical for sports. In addition, the figure skating rule prohibits any protest against the result or appeal for retrial. Even judo or baseball rules allow players to protest against judges. Figure skaters are never allowed to protest against the judges for unreasonable scores or evaluation and no explanation is given to them, no matter how far the score was from what they thought.

We figure skating fans have been shown competitions with totally unexpected scores and winners whom no one can understand why he/she won. This is the main reason for many empty seats in every country, even in the U.S. or Canada, except Japan. 

The Sochi Olympics are around the corner.  However, figure skating is almost dying and will die if we don’t do anything now.  We would like to stop this unfair scoring, or Sochi will become a graveyard for figure skating. For this reason, we decided to submit a dispute to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.  Our goal is to have the Internal Skating Union, (“ISU”) revise Rule 123, paragraph 4, which prevents the protest.

ISU constitution and general regulations
Rule123
4. Protest restrictions

A. Figure Skating

i) No protests against evaluations by Referees, Judges and the Technical Panel (Technical Controller, Technical Specialists, Data & Replay Operator) of Skaters’ performances are allowed;
ii) Protests against results are permitted only in the case of incorrect mathematical calculation. 
A wrong identification of an element or of a level of difficulty, although it results in a lower or higher score, is a human error and not an incorrect mathematical calculation;
iii) However, if the Referee learns:

a) Prior to the beginning of the award ceremony or prior to the official announcement of results if there is no award ceremony, that a human error relating to a wrong data input by the Data Operator occurred, the Referee may correct the error provided that the Technical Controller, both Technical Specialists and the Data Operator all agree that there was an error;

b) Within 24 hours after the award ceremony that an incorrect mathematical calculation occurred, the Referee may correct the calculation even without a protest provided that the Technical Controller, both Technical Specialists and the Data Operator all agree that there was such an incorrect calculation. 
If such correction requires corrections of the final placements of the Skaters, the corresponding medals and/or awards shall be changed accordingly;

c) If the situation under paragraph a) and b) arises the Referee shall make a short record in writing which has to be signed by all the Officials concerned.

>>>ISU Constitution and General Regulations 2012)

We will ask the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport), to change or terminate Rule 123-4 from the ISU rules, if possible. 

“We need accountability for skating, because we love it. We stand against “Protest restrictions” in figure skating. We want to ask you to change or terminate ISU Rule 123, paragraph 4 of the ISU General Regulation, “Protest restrictions” from the ISU rule book.”

Dear Sir/Madam:

We request that the Court of Arbitration for Sports needs to show accountability in the figure skating scoring system.  We also request that ISU Rule 123, paragraph 4 of the ISU General Regulation, Protest restrictions (see attached partial regulation), be removed or changed to allow the protest.

During these past six to seven years, we huge figure skating fans have been seeing numerous incomprehensible scores in many international figure skating competitions.   

Do you know a sign that reads “Hi! Slichs” was held by a figure skating fan at the Torino World Championship in 2010? That was a strong protest sign against the judges.  Have you heard that at Nice World in 2012, the arena was full of loud booing against the judges from the audience about unfair scoring? At London World in 2013, the audience was totally lost for words what to say about the scores?  Many old and huge figure skating fans are very angry about inexplicable scores.  Do you have any idea why these things are happening in the figure skating world?

The answer is that the ISU rule 123, paragraph 4 does never allow skaters or coaches to protest against the scores, unless there is a mathematical calculation error and the ISU has no obligation to explain about the process of the scoring or evaluation. This rule cannot be applied without transparency and trust of the judging system. However, what we have been seeing is totally different from what it should be.

Currently, the ISU judging system assures the anonymity of the judges and this enables them to give higher scores to their favorite skaters regardless of their performance on that day, or even a lower score to their unfavorable skaters.  Who would hold such “Hi! Sliches” sign or boo loudly against judges if the scores and evaluations of the performances were reasonable. The gap between what the audience saw and the score which the judges gave is too big, and no one explains or no one is “obligated” to explain the reason of such gap. Even the judges are not. That’s because of the ISU Rule 123, paragraph 4.  We are no longer able to enjoy watching figure skating as a sport.

A fan, who cannot stand by and watch this situation any longer, called for advocates to protest against the current ISU rule; immediately more than five thousand fans agreed and signed the petition. This fan is not a well-known journalist or figure skating related person, just one of the ordinary figure skating fans.  This means many fans doubt the fairness of this scoring system.

We have sent the petition to the Japanese Skating Federation along with a letter to protest against the current judging system and request explanations for incomprehensible scores and results of some international competitions. However, there was no response from the federation at all.  Do you know why? It is because of the “Rule 123, paragraph 4”. This rule allows them not to respond or explain anything about the judging system. Or they may not even want to answer our questions because they know what they are doing, and this “what they are doing” is not supposed to be public.

Where can you find any sport like figure skating which has such an unreasonable restricted rule for skaters? Figure skating is only one of the amateur sports.  Skaters are trained hard every single day with bloody effort to pursue and show their perfect and best performances in each competition for audiences and themselves, and those performances must be scored and evaluated fairly under a transparent system by quality judges. If not, who wants to buy expensive tickets and travel from great distances to see such competitions beyond figure skating fans’ comprehension?

We would like to ask you the following questions.

1. We are just a group of ordinary figure skating fans. Is it possible for us to file a complaint to the Court of Arbitration for Sports against the ISU for such an unfair judging system?
2. Is it required to hire a lawyer in order to file the complaint?
3. Are we able to file the complaint with only documents and video tapes as the proof?
4. What would be the estimate for the fee to file the case based on the assumptions above?

Honestly, there are many fans who are worried that Japanese skater(s) would receive undeservedly a low score or evaluation on his/her performance at competitions if such complaint would have been filed to the CAS.   In order to prevent it, the result of the ruling given by CAS should be publicly announced. We strongly believe that this will work as a deterrent against unfair judging. If the CAS would not accept the complaint, or even though the CAS would accept it with conditions of 1 through 4 mentioned above but wouldn’t be able to change the ISU rule, we expect that the CAS would give us an explanation that can satisfy us. 

Even though we asked above if a lawyer is required, we are not planning to hire anyone for this.  However, if we can file the complaint, we need to collect fund to do so.  We have no sponsor or support from big corporations. We are only fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, workers, farmers, or self-employed, and huge figure skating fans. That’s it. The sports are for such fans, not for corporate sponsors or political instruments.

As you can see already in the U.S. or Canada, figure skating is getting less popular and in the near future, this sport may not be a “sport” anymore.

We greatly appreciate any response or instructions you can provide us. If the fee would be too high for us, we may have to abandon this plan. We have written everything that we huge figure skating fans are concerned about and what we huge figure skating fans are desperate for, and this is the record to remain in the CAS at least what we did for the future of figure skating. All sports should be for the fans, not for the corporate sponsors and not only for one country. Does this make sense to you? Otherwise most competitive sports will disappear from the earth.

We are very much looking forward to hearing from you soon. 

Sincerely yours,

Please help us. Please support us. Please keep your eye on if judges give really fair scores to all skaters at Sochi. 

Truly notable performances receive well-deserved scores and evaluation. This is the only way that figure skating can survive as a sport.

Your understanding and cooperation will support those of us who are working with only devotion to figure skating. 

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Great post,thanks,this is going to help me a lot.Thanks again.

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