Technology Replacing Judges?




Gymnastics judging has long been known for its subjectivity in judging and visual interaction between athlete and judge.

That subjectivity and interaction may be changing by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

The Japan Gymnastics Association and the Japanese technology company, Fujitsu Ltd. have announced that they are working on 3D lasers and data processing as a resource for judges when calculating scores.

Cookie Batsche, Brevet Judge and Region 8 Judging Director, states, “This is an intriguing concept and I look forward to learning more about it.  As judges, we always want to provide the correct evaluation of a routine.  I welcome innovations that will help us give the best scores to the best routines.”

The technology, 3D laser sensors and data processing, from Fujitsu and the gymnastics knowledge of the Japan Gymnastics Association will be combined to identify athlete’s joint position and skill technique.  In addition, the technology hopes to reduce the amount of time taken to calculate scores, making competitions move more quickly.


“While I am all for the officials ‘getting it right’ when it comes to their evaluation of our athletes, I am skeptical about the overuse of technology. Gymnastics, like baseball (let’s say), has always had the human element when it comes to officiating and I personally like that aspect,” states Brad Harris, owner and head coach at Tampa Bay Turners.

Fujitsu and Japan Gymnastics Assoc. state in their press release, “With the extraordinarily rapid advance of gymnastic techniques such as with the number of twists, there are times when it is difficult to accurately judge and score a performance with the naked eye. As a result, judges face an escalating burden of making accurate split-second scoring decisions.”

It will be interesting to see how this technology, if it moves forward, will be tested and validated before being incorporated into a major competition like the Olympic Games.  As with the implementation of any new tool, someone will have some issue with the use of it or validity of the results produced by this new product.



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