South Korea to escalate complaints over controversial speed-skating calls at Olympics

The Korean Sport and Olympic Committee plans to escalate complaints over the decision that disqualified two of its speed skaters in the Beijing Winter Olympics. (Getty)
The Korean Sport and Olympic Committee plans to escalate complaints over the decision that disqualified two of its speed skaters in the Beijing Winter Olympics. (Getty)

South Korea isn't done questioning some of the Beijing Olympic Games most controversial calls so far.

The Korean Sport and Olympic Committee announced on Tuesday that it plans to issue a protest with the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the International Olympic Committee over the disqualification of two of its speed skaters in the men’s 1,000-metre semi-final at the 2022 Games.

Korean skater Hwang Dae-heon was assessed an “illegal late pass” penalty, while teammate Lee June-seo was penalized for a lane-change infraction, with both actions causing contact with other skaters.

"We will explore all available ways and means to ensure that such an unfair judgement will not be made again," said Yoon Hong-geun, president of the Korea Skating Union, via Reuters. “We've been receiving requests from sport officials and ordinary citizens to pull out of the Olympics altogether and bring the athletes home, but we are not at that stage yet.”

The decisions came to benefit the Chinese participants, who not only advanced to the finals, but ultimately won gold and silver in the event.

This is not the first time that China has benefited from penalties and disqualifications handed out to its competition in speed skating events in Beijing.

Ren Ziwei of China was awarded the gold medal in the men’s 1,000-metre final on Monday when a collision with Liu Shaolin Sandor of Hungary resulted in a penalty assessed to the Hungarian, who actually crossed the finish line just ahead of his opponent.

One day prior, controversy struck again at Capital Indoor Stadium, when China’s mixed relay team advanced to the final after the United States and Russian Olympic Committee skaters were disqualified for perceived obstruction. The debacle prompted a disappointed reaction from South Korean skater Kwak Yoon-gy.

“I was watching that race unfold. I figured China, ROC and the U.S. would get penalized,” he said. “But as the review dragged on, I figured China was going to be allowed to progress. And when the call was finally made, I found it difficult to accept it.”

The Chinese team would go on to capture the gold medal, reinforcing what many, like Kwak, are afraid is an unfortunate case of favouritism towards the home nation.

"If it had been any other country than China in that situation, I wondered if that team would still have been allowed to reach the final like that."

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