Aug 26, 2019 - Sports

Robot judges are coming to gymnastics

Judge, Simone Biles of the USA awards

Gymnast Simone Biles judges the Superstars of Gymnastics. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Controversy over video assistant referee technology (VAR) has engulfed seemingly every sport. Now, it's coming to gymnastics.

Driving the news: The International Gymnastics Federation recently approved the use of VAR in international competition — "a decision that could ultimately shift control over the sport's judging from humans to robots," writes the Wall Street Journal's Louise Radnofsky.

Why it matters: Different international standards and flat out mistakes by judges have muddied scores in the past, but VAR theoretically fixes that by sticking to one standard.

What's next: The technology will be used at the world championships in October, and if the test goes well, it could be deployed at the 2020 Olympics.

Thought bubble from Axios' very own former gymnast, Sara Fischer:

"As a gymnast, your energy is always placed on the standard point deductions. The stress to me wouldn't be that VAR is biased against you, but that it makes it easier for judges to see things they normally wouldn't catch. That could be good or bad."

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