What are the odds of winning a protest at the Olympics?

The other day, I found an article from 2014 that I tweeted during the Sochi Winter Olympics. It discussed the costs of protesting at the Olympics and the unique way that the process works:

Unlike major professional sports like soccer, baseball or football, protests are relatively common in Olympic sports, and each sport’s governing body has strict rules about the protocol. There are time restrictions. There are guidelines on whether the protest can be oral or must be in writing. And there is, ultimately, the bill.

And don’t try to pull out a credit card at the protest table.

“It has to be cash,” said Ivor Lehotan, the vice president for information for the International Biathlon Union. He added, dryly: “It’s like a processing fee.”

Depending on the sport, the fee varies: for luge, it is 50 euros (about $67). Cross-country skiing, like snowboard and Alpine skiing, demands 100 Swiss francs (about $112) but stipulates that all protests must be submitted in English. Bobsled and skeleton are among the most expensive: they require a deposit of 100 euros before any protest will even be considered. If multiple countries want to make a similar protest, sharing the tab is allowed.

There are rules, too, about what can be protested, and coaches have to be well versed on all the nuances. In luge, for example, athletes can protest to a jury if something happens during their run that they feel was unfair. The only exception listed in the rulebook? Being distracted by a camera flash is not grounds for a protest.

Apparently, the idea of making nations pay-to-parlay is to punish the worst complainers and repeat offenders (in their eyes, at least). Gymnastics is the biggest sport for protests, with some complaints going as far as the Court of Arbitration, but there’s a twist: you get your deposit back if the protest is upheld. That’s how deposits work I suppose but it’s interesting to see it in sports rather than, say, renting a house. If Olympic protests were a sports betting market, what would the odds be on winning a protest given all the variables, countries involved, and judges’ biases?

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