Officials rule, OK!

It was a strange night in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

In the English Premier Football (soccer) League, there are constant debates about the VAR, the Video Assistant Referee which intervenes (on the basis of video replays) – most people think too frequently – to advise the onfield referee to change his decision.  There were times on Saturday evening when it seemed it was all about the officials, not the athletes.  There were strange decisions that certainly broke up the flow.

During the men’s 110m hurdles semis, I thought I was back watching VAR!  In the second semi, Elie Bacari of Belgium reacted in 0.97 seconds and was shown a yellow card.  There was I thought that anything under 0.1 was an automatic DQ.  Bacari used his reprieve to run a PR of 13.44 for fourth place but fast enough to gain a “faster loser” place in the final. Then in semi 3, Enrique Llopis was left on the start line but the race was stopped, Llopis shown a yellow card and the race reset with llopis running a PR to reach the final.  But the officials were not finished.  There was a DQ for Jakub Szymanski and an extra place in the final awarded to Santeri Kuusiniemi.

But the chaos wasn’t over.  There was a recall in the men’s 100 first semi-final, but some did not hear it, meaning that 4 athletes stopped immediately, two at halfway, and two finished the race.  Markus Fuchs, one of the two to finish, had recorded a start of 0.90, which means that you get shown a yellow card these days.[That Fuchs is the German for fox may be relevant].  It was then decided to proceed with semi 2 and 3 while those who had run to the finish in race 1 recovered.  Semi-final 1 was rerun- but not before Oliver Wdowik was DQed for a proper false start (0.6).  Fuchs was fourth and did not make the final.

What was really frustrating was that none of this was explained to the crowd.  I am an athletics writer and supposed to be an expert but I was left clueless as to what was happening.

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