China's second penalty-aided speed skating gold causes confusion, more controversy

Shaolin Sandor Liu and Ziwei Ren of were at the centre of controversy in the Men's 1000m final of the Beijing Olympics. (Getty)
Shaolin Sandor Liu and Ziwei Ren of were at the centre of controversy in the Men's 1000m final of the Beijing Olympics. (Getty)

Speed skating at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games has been a mill of controversy so far. And it's only Day 2.

China won its second gold medal in the sport and the Games on Monday, with Ren Ziwei taking first place in the men's 1,000-metre race, though he wasn't the first skater to cross the finish line.

Liu Shaolin Sandor of Hungary received two lane-violation penalties and a yellow card after a video review following a chaotic series of events that started with the Hungarian apparently bumping into Ren, who promptly grabbed onto his opponent right as both skaters approached the finish line. Liu Shaolin Sandor still managed to cross first.

After a long video review, however, Ren was elevated to the top spot and knocked Liu Shaolin Sandor off the podium entirely.

As has become the norm in these Olympic Games, the officials' decision was met with confusion and polarization. The fact that this is the second time China has earned gold after their opponents were handed out penalties only added to the online ordeal.

The men's 1,000-metre race was chaotic from the jump. The final had to be restarted so crew could remove metal debris and repair a tough spot on the ice, and the second time around brought even more drama.

While some believe Liu blocked Ren's way and impeded the Chinese skater, others defended he had a clean race. Then, there were those who agreed with the penalties handed out to Liu, but argued that Ren should have also been penalized for grabbing his opponent.

The one feeling that seemed to unite everyone involved in the discussion was utter confusion.

At least one athlete shares fans' confusion.

South Korean speed skater Kwak Yoon-gy spoke against the short-track officiating after China won gold in mixed relay despite failing to qualify for the final round. It wasn't until the United States and Russian Olympic Committee got disqualified that the Chinese earned a spot and eventually clinched their first top spot of these Games.

"If it had been any other country than China in that situation, I wondered if that team would still have been allowed to reach the final like that," said Kwak.

The Olympic Games run until Feb. 20, which leaves plenty of time for more controversy in an event brimming with it.

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