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Asian Games 2023: Controversial moments involving Indian athletes

While India celebrated its historic medal haul at the Asian Games, the controversies surrounding officiating decisions left a bitter aftertaste. 

Asian Games 2023: Controversial moments involving Indian athletes

Wu Yanni celebrates at the end of the 100m hurdles final at the Asian Games as Jyothi Yarraji looks on. Wu was later disqualfied, upgrading Jyothi's bronze to a silver. (AFP)


Aswathy Santhosh

Updated: 10 Oct 2023 12:30 AM GMT

Asian Games 2023 saw India achieve its best-ever medal haul by crossing the historic 100-medal mark. India finished the continental showpiece with 107 medals including 28 gold, 38 silver, and 41 bronze.

While the Indian athletes celebrated a triumph, multiple controversial moments marred the exceptional showing by the Indians. The majority of the controversy involved the poor officiating in the Games.

The incidents involving Neeraj Chopra, Jyoti Yarraji, Kabaddi, and other events have sparked discussions about the need for fair and transparent refereeing in international sports. Despite the challenges, India's athletes displayed remarkable resilience, determination, and sportsmanship in the face of adversity.

This article delves into some of the most controversial officiating incidents that cast a shadow over India's remarkable achievements.

A 'false start' for Jyothi Yarraji

In the women's 100m hurdles final, Chinese athlete Yanni Wu and India's Jyoti Yarraji found themselves in a startling situation. Yanni Wu started before the pistol went off resulting in a false start and disqualification.

To the surprise of everyone, Indian hurdler Jyothi Yarraji was also disqualified.

Jyoti Yarraji, visibly surprised, protested against the decision. After a delay of more than ten minutes, Jyothi and Yanni both raced winning the bronze and silver respectively.

However, the Athletics Federation of India immediately protested the decision to allow Chinese hurdlers to compete despite a false start.

Eventually, Jyothi was awarded silver, and Yanni was disqualified but the event affected the momentum and rhythm of the Indian athlete.

Later, Yanni Wu apologized for the misunderstanding on Chinese social media.

World Champion Neeraj Chopra in middle of 'technical glitch'

In the eagerly anticipated javelin throw event featuring India's star Neeraj Chopra, controversy marred the spectacle.

Neeraj's first throw, which appeared to cover a distance of at least 87 meters, was not recorded due to some glitch in the system. The fans and the athletes were shocked alike.

Neeraj contested the decision and after a good delay of more than 15 minutes, Neeraj had to throw again as there was no way to measure his previous throw.

“Something happened at the other end, and they didn’t measure it properly. The next athlete threw quickly after me and then they lost the mark,” Neeraj explained the delay later on.

The other Indian athlete in the mix, Kishore Kumar Jena was meted out the same treatment when one of his throws was deemed illegal despite being inside the line.

Neerja and Kishore both contested the decision resulting in official awarding it as a legal throw. However, it was the Indian who had the last laugh as Neeraj and Kishore finished on the podium winning gold and silver medals.

India v Iran Kabaddi final: When officials forgot the rule

In the high-octane men's Kabaddi final between India and Iran, there was an unusual one-hour suspension due to rule confusion. With the game tied at 28-28 and less than 90 seconds remaining, Pawan Sehrawat embarked on a do-or-die raid. Pawan went into the lobby and four Iranian defenders followed him resulting in the chaos.

Under International Kabaddi Federation rules, India was to receive four points while Iran was awarded one. However, the referee awarded one point to each team. India protested vehemently, even staging a sit-in on the mat for an hour.

The officials and jury members struggled to resolve the confusion, leading to a significant delay. Eventually, the game resumed, with India clinching gold via a 33-29 victory over Iran.

Favouring home side: Bhavani Devi questions the officials

Indian fencer Bhavani Devi had her eyes set on the historic first-ever fencing medal for the country. She started well and defeated all five fencers in the group stage including the Asian Champion.

Playing home favourite Yaqi Shao in the quarter-finals, Bhavani lost 15-7.

Later, she alleged the referee of being unjust. "The referee was not right with me in the beginning, he gave a quick series of 3-4 touches to the Chinese fencer which I was sure in my mind were my touches," Bhavani said after her quarterfinal heartbreak.

She also admitted that the decisions broke her concentration during the quarters.

Apart from these four, there were many more small instances like Murali Sreeshankar's issue with the jumping board and a few calls in the boxing where the decisions went against the opponents.

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