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article imageReport: Nationalist partiality among figuring skating judges

By Tim Sandle     Feb 10, 2014 in Sports
With the Sochi Winter Olympics in full flow, a new study suggests that the judges of figure skating lack a degree of impartiality, shown via an economic model.
According to economist Eric Zitzewitz of Dartmouth University, judges of international figure skating competitions have a tendency to raise scores for performers from their own countries and to arrange mutually beneficial vote exchanges among themselves. This is despite an outcry during the 2002 Olympics when collusion between judges was discovered.
Zitzewitz has picked up a number of suspicious voting patterns in a paper published in the Journal of Sports Economics (“Does Transparency Reduce Favoritism and Corruption? Evidence From the Reform of Figure Skating Judging”). These voting issues are, the author considers, significant enough to alter the results of a close competition.
For his analysis, Science News reports, Zitzewitz examined voting patterns from all major competitions held between 2000 and 2009. For the early competitions, the judges declared their scores; in more recent competitions, voting has been anonymous.
The author thinks that deals take place because the scores of judges are anonymous. Zitzewitz recommends reinstating public disclosure of each judge’s scores. Without reform, according to Zitzewitz’s measure, voting bias combines national favoritism and vote trading.
More about Skating, Figure skating, Olympics, Winter olympics, Sochi
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