24 August 2004 by Liam Logsdon, The Olympian Times
Athens, Greece (AP Sports) Well, so much for all of the formal negotiating. It was announced today that Tonya Harding will negotiate the dispute between the US and South Korea athletes, Hamm and Yang Tae.
The U.S. Olympic Committee announced it simply gave up because both sides claimed they had won the Gold outright and fair. The dispute is over the scoring and the head of gymnastics' ruling body has shot down all suggestions up to this point.
Bruno Grandi, president of the International Gymnastics Federation, told AP Tuesday morning that rules prevent him from making it right and just. That was when he decided to ask Tonya Harding to mediate.
"Tonya has competed in the Olympics", Grandi replied, "She was able to negotiate with Nancy Kerrigan, both before and after the competition, so we believe in her ability to achieve resolution".
The root of the problem stems form Hamm winning the gold last Wednesday, after judges incorrectly scored Yang's parallel bars routine. They failed to give Yang enough points for the level of difficulty. Yang won the bronze while Hamm became the first American man to win the gold in that event.
The Federal International Games Legal Enforcement Action Forum, known as FIGLEAF, stated the judges made a mistake, but said they would not change the results. That wasn't good enough for the South Koreans, so they placed a call to Ms. Harding's agent.
Tonya Harding was in Las Vegas, completing her training for an upcoming boxing match with Mike Tyson. When told of the request, Ms. Harding spoke with Mr. Tyson to reschedule the event. The Harding / Tyson fight is a special pay-per-view scheduled for Cinemax in September. The fight will now be televised in November.
Ms. Harding met with Jae Soon-Yoo, an official for the South Korean delegation, at Wally's Gym in Las Vegas on Monday. Mr. Soon-Yoo said, "We believe Ms. Harding will fight for our cause and deliver the Gold medal, we so rightfully deserve". "She understands what losing means, and how best to settle the score between two opponents".
When Ms. Harding last appeared in the Olympics, she negotiated with her opponents using a lead pipe, verbal insults and threats of permanent physical damage.
Under FIGLEAF rules, all protests can be decided by a judged boxing match. Bruno Grandi stated, "Ms. Harding has the right amount of integrity and spunk to intimidate her opponents and we fill confident, someone will either back down or be knocked down". Grandi seemed to indicate that he would prefer the latter.
"When interviewed, Mr. Hamm said he'd love for Tonya Harding to assist in resolving the conflict". "I began my career with kick boxing, so I feel I am prepared for our consult". But Hamm said, "He has no plans to lose the medal unless someone kicks his butt". "I truly believe in my heart that I am the Olympic all-around champion", Hamm said. "I competed steroid free", he added.
Yang Tae replied, "I look forward to watching the match between Ms. Harding and Mr. Hamm". "Since he is in possession of the gold medal, Ms. Harding will fight him first, according to the rules of FIGLEAF". "I believe Ms. Harding will make him cry like Nancy Kerrigan".
"These new rulings will open a Pandora's box for the future challenges that aren't within the rules", said Jesse Owens, a gold medalist in the 1932 Olympics. "What's the statute of limitations for grievances"? "I bet the Germans would have loved to have had this around in 1932".