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Sara Takanashi: Japanese ski jumper apologizes amid ‘too big’ suit disqualification controversy

By Ben Morse, CNN

Japanese ski jumper Sara Takanashi has issued an emotional apology after she was disqualified for violating suit regulations at Beijing 2022.

Takanashi was one of five women ski jumpers disqualified for violating guidelines on the suits they wore while competing in the mixed-team ski jumping final on Monday.

Austria’s Daniela Iraschko-Stolz, Katharina Althaus of Germany, Norweigan duo Anna Odine Stroem and Silje Opseth as well as Takanashi were the jumpers penalized.

“The used suits that led to the disqualifications were too big and offered an aerodynamic advantage to the athlete,” said the International Ski Federation (FIS) in a statement sent to CNN.

The 25-year-old Takanashii had recorded a huge jump of 103 meters to give Japan a promising start as the mixed event debuted at the Beijing Games.

“I am very sorry that the chance of winning a medal has been taken away from the Japanese team,” said Takanashi in an heartfelt message on Instagram.

“It is an undeniable fact that my disqualification changed everyone’s lives. Even if I apologize the medal will not be returned.”

According to the FIS guidelines: “An athlete may only take part in a FIS Competition with equipment which conforms to the FIS regulations.

“The equipment is checked during a competition on a random basis. If it does not meet the requirements it results in a disqualification of the athlete. An athlete is responsible for the equipment he uses.”

Takanashi was disqualified as her suit was two centimeters wider than permitted around her thighs, according to Reuters.

‘No official protest by a team’

Japan just missed out on a medal, finishing fourth at Zhangjiakou National Ski Jumping Centre. Slovenia won gold while the Russian Olympic Committee claimed silver and Canada secured bronze.

While Takanashi apologized, Germany’s Althaus, who won a silver medal in the individual event, was more critical of her disqualification.

“We were looking forward to the second (women’s) competition at the Olympics. FIS destroyed that with this action — they destroyed women’s ski jumping,” Althaus told Reuters.

“I have been checked so many times in 11 years of ski jumping, and I have never been disqualified once. I know my suit was compliant.”

In a statement sent to CNN, the FIS said that all nations were checked during competition, and that “in order to guarantee fairness and equal opportunities during the Olympic Games, the controls during the Olympic competitions are very precise and are carried out by two controllers (usually one person).

“During these controls, five athletes were disqualified for using suits that did not comply with the rules,” it said. “The suits used were produced exclusively for the Olympic Games and were therefore not previously tested by the FIS EC.

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“A test of the suits had been offered by the FIS competition management to all teams before the competitions.

“Only a few teams took this opportunity (For example Daniela Haralambie from Romania).There was no official protest by a team against any of the disqualifications.”

Japan’s National Olympic Committee did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

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