Officials explain appeal process

LONDON -- Olympic fencing officials said Tuesday they had no choice but to reject an appeal by South Korea following the defeat of Shin A-lam in the semifinals of the Olympic women's individual epee.

The South Koreans claimed that Shin's match against Britta Heidemann was already over when the German was awarded the decisive point in the final second Monday, earning her a 6-5 victory.

Fencing officials said in a statement that determining how much time remains in a match is up to the referee. They said they could not "change a question of fact."

The appeal delayed competition more than an hour. Competition rules forced Shin to wait on the fencing strip, leaving the South Korean crying before a crowd of 8,000, before the decision was announced.

Officials said Monday they needed the time to make sure they were following procedures correctly in what they called a "delicate situation."

In its appeal, South Korea questioned the timekeeping toward the end of the match. With one second left on the clock, the match was restarted four times as both players scored simultaneously each time, automatically stopping the clock.

The South Koreans said in their appeal that it impossible for all for actions to happen during one second.

"Who can believe this situation?" they wrote.

Shin later lost her bronze-medal match to Sun Yujie of China, while Heidemann, the defending Olympic champion, went on to lose the final 9-8 to Yana Shemyakina of Ukraine.