South Korean player not at Olympic medal ceremony
A South Korean soccer player who held up a sign with a political
message after a victory over Japan did not get a bronze Sunday when
the Olympic medals were handed out in a ceremony to the rest of his
Midfielder Park Jong-woo is under investigation by the IOC and
soccer’s governing body, FIFA, for displaying the sign with a
slogan supporting South Korean sovereignty over disputed islets
that are claimed by both his country and Japan. The largely
uninhabited islets are called Dokdo by South Koreans and Takeshima
The IOC and FIFA have statutes that prohibit political
statements by athletes and players. Olympic officials had asked the
South Korean Olympic Committee to take action against Park and that
he not be present at the ceremony.
When the men’s soccer medals were presented at Wembley Stadium
following Mexico’s 2-1 win over Brazil in the gold-medal match,
only 17 of the 18 South Korean players were on the field for the
ceremony. Park was not among them.
The IOC had begun an investigation into Park’s actions, and FIFA
said it has opened a separate investigation to discipline the
South Korea defeated Japan 2-0 in Cardiff, Wales, on Friday,
hours after President Lee Myung-bak raised diplomatic tensions by
traveling to the islets. The presidential visit prompted Japan to
recall its ambassador from Seoul.
Photos of the player holding a sign on the field during the
celebration by South Korea were passed along to FIFA to determine
if any further disciplinary action will be taken, the soccer
governing body said.
South Korea stations a small contingent of police officers on
the islets in a show of control, but Japan maintains that the rocks
are its territory. Tokyo renewed the claim last month in an annual
During his visit Friday, Lee reportedly told police officers
there that the islets are ”worth sacrificing lives for,”
according to the presidential office.
Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said it was
”incomprehensible why (Lee) would make this trip at this
On Aug. 15, South Korea will commemorate the peninsula’s
independence in 1945 from 35 years of Japanese colonial rule.