In artistic gymnastics, men and women compete separately with men competing on six apparatus: floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar. Women compete on four apparatus: vault, uneven bars, beam and floor.
There are four competition phases in gymnastics:
- Qualifications: All gymnasts compete as part of a team or individuals and the results of this competition are used to qualify gymnasts for the team, individual all-around and the apparatus finals. No scores are carried over from the qualifications to the finals.
- Team finals: They involve only the top eight (8) men's and women's teams from the qualifications. The teams compete again on all apparatus and the team with the highest total score claims the team title.
- All-around finals: The 24 top men and women from the qualifications (maximum two per NOC), proceed to the individual all-round finals. The gymnasts perform again on all pieces of apparatus and those with the highest scores claim the medals in the individual all-around. The individual all-around title is considered to be the premium achievement in gymnastics.
- Apparatus finals: The top eight (8) men and women who are placed highest on each apparatus in the qualifications (no more than two per NOC) compete for the apparatus titles.
Artistic Gymnastics is a judgment sport with a 'Chair' (head judge) and a panel of eight judges presiding over each apparatus. The eight judges are broken down into two panels. The 'A' panel, (two judges) who calculate the 'Start Value' which is the maximum score a gymnast can receive based on the content of the routine they just performed, and the 'B' panel (six judges) who determine deductions based on the execution of the routine.
Differences between World Championships and Olympic Games
There is a restriction on entry to the Olympic Games. Only the top twelve men's and women's teams and a designated number of nations with individuals, who qualified at the World Championships in the previous year can participate, while the World Championships are open to all FIG member federations. In short, the Olympic Games have fewer competitors than the World Championships.
Changes since Sydney 2000 Olympic Games
New international Codes of Points for men and for women have been introduced since 1st January 2001, updated on December 2004.
The TC Members will no longer be part of the Apparatus Jury. They will sit on the Superior Jury.
Inquiries (Protests) will be introduced for the A-Score.
A video system for an instant review by the difficulty judges (2 A-Judges) and the Superior Jury will be introduced.
The Superior Jury will control the judges' work during and after the competition.
Team format for the qualifications has remained 6-3-3 (i.e. a team consists of six gymnasts; three of them compete on any one apparatus and the all three scores count towards the team total)
The number of the teams competing in the team finals (for both men and women) has been increased from six (6) to eight (8).
The number of the gymnasts competing in the individual all-around finals (for both men and women) has been reduced from 36 to 24. The gymnasts are seeded into one group.
New vaulting table has been introduced since the year 2001.
The gymnasts' warming up on the apparatus prior to the individual apparatus finals has been removed.
Ties break rules exist to determine which individual gymnasts or teams advance to the finals in case of ties for the last qualification place. If ties cannot be broken, larger final fields are possible. New tie breaking rules have been formulated to reduce the incidence of ties for medals.
Penalties and Disqualification
Penalties can be imposed on either an individual gymnast or on a team as a whole depending on the infraction.
Individual penalties can include, for example, going out of bounds on floor, exceeding a time limit for a routine. These types of penalties are deducted from the gymnast's score for the apparatus.
More general penalties can include wearing inappropriate attire and are deducted from the gymnast's all-around total score.
There are two types of disqualification (DSQ):
Disqualification as a result of a breach of the FIG technical rules and regulations (decisions are taken by the competition jury).
Disqualification as a result of infringing recognised sport ethics and rules (e.g. positive doping control) (decisions are taken by the IOC and FIG authorities).
Inquiries on the Difficulty score only are allowed. are possible. An inquiry can only be made by the Head of Delegation or the Coach of theat gymnast. It cannot be made for a gymnast from another team.