Every country competing in the Olympic gymnastic events will send their athletes, their coaches and an envelope of American dollar bills. It's a necessary, if strange, part of the gymnastic rules, which requires $100 to send in an inquiry.
The inquiry is essentially the same as a challenge, something common in sports like football and now baseball. Gymnasts can inquire about their routine score before the following score is posted, which makes judges double-check and make sure they received the maximum number of points for their routine. Teams receive the money back if they win the inquiry, but it stays with the IOC if the inquiry is rejected.
On Monday, the United States' Laurie Hernandez and France's Marine Boyer both filed inquiries in the Olympics beam event. Boyer was just a 10th behind Simone Biles, who had a bronze finish. The $100 is required to make sure teams don't make capricious challenges, but at the Olympics level, you can imagine teams are happy to risk $100 if it means potential points being added and could be the difference between a medal.
Cameras didn't (or chose not to) catch coaches from the United States or France handing the money off. But when it does happen, like with Japan's gymnastics team in the 2012 Olympics as you can see below, the rule goes from odd to suspicious.
You can easily see the $100 bill in the photo there as Japan filed their inquiry. Suddenly, a rule looks more like bribery, even though the money has no effect on how the judges would rule on a points decision. It's just so the inquiries aren't used frivolously.
Japan actually won their inquiry and received additional points for one of its gymnast's routines. Often, this is how inquiries play out, when coaches notice a move that should earn points that aren't properly awarded. As was the case on Monday, it was probably just two gymnasts being extra sure. At the Olympics, betting $100 on a chance for even an extra 10th of a point is well worth it. You'll probably never have this chance again.
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