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Okay, so there’s this big controversy about the age of some of the girls on China’s Olympic gymnastics team. The rules are that they’re supposed to be at least 16 to compete. Not everyone is convinced that all these girls are.

For several of the gymnasts from other countries, the prompt stating their name, nation, etc. has clearly stated their age to be 15. I’m guessing this is allowed because their birthdays are actually later this year.

I think a lot of people have overlooked, or just don’t realise, how Chinese count age. In most of the Western world, if you’re born on 4 July 2008, you are not considered a year old until 4 July 2009. This isn’t so in China (as well as some other Asian nations). In China, you are considered a year old on the day you are born.

So, if the Chinese are counting this way, then yes, they very well could have 15 year olds  (by Western thinking) on their team. Now, if we applied the scenario above where a girl is actually 15, but will be 16 later this year to Chinese counting, we effectively decrement these numbers by 1. Thus, a girl who is 14 (by Western thinking) and will be 15 (again, by Western thinking) later this year, we can see how there could indeed be 14 year olds on the team.

For the record, I don’t think it’s a big deal. The girls can do their skills, then they deserve their medals. What really needs to be investigated is the judging and the tie breaking procedure, and whether there should even be a tie breaker.

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