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8.22.2008

really, just how old are those chinese gymnasts?

One of the minor controversies that has dogged the Beijing Olympic Games is the question of the Chinese women gymnasts' age. Not only do they just look waaaaay younger that the eligible competing age of 16, some have pointed to previous web documentation that suggests that some Chinese team members could be as young as 14: Persistent questions about Chinese, but no proof.

But China has presented the necessary official documentation—a government-issued passport—for all of its gymnasts that show they are age eligible. This is all the proof of age the International Gymnastics Federation has required for them to compete. Yeah, I know. Not the most reassuring proof.

If the federation had found evidence that the gymnasts were underage, it could have affected four of China's medals. In addition to the team gold and He Kexin's gold on bars, Yang Yilin won bronze medals in the all-around and uneven bars. But the matter appears to have been put to rest.

The Olympics live and die by the illusion of international harmony and fair competition, despite the rampant cheating and political manipulation that we know probably happens behind the scenes. My guess is, the IOC won't press the matter further.