PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of — Short-track speedskater Kim Boutin was the target of nasty messages and even death threats on social media after she was awarded the bronze medal when a South Korean was disqualified in the 500-metre race at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
Boutin finished fourth, but was promoted to third when Minjeong Choi was disqualified for interfering with the Canadian. The ruling by officials didn't sit well with South Korean fans.
Radio-Canada reported that thousands of angry messages and some death threats were directed at Boutin.
"Congratulations on a dirty medal," one message said.
"You had been teaching Kim Boutin how to cheat, Canada!!" said another on Twitter.
Boutin, from Sherbrooke, Que., set her social media accounts to private and the RCMP, the IOC and Speed Skating Canada were looking into the matter.
"The health, safety and security of all our team members is our top priority and as such we are working closely with Speed Skating Canada, our security personnel and the RCMP," said a statement from the Canadian Olympic Committee. "We will not make further comment on this issue, so that Kim can focus on her upcoming events."
The subject was also raised later in the day at the International Olympic Committee's media briefing.
"Clearly what we want is for great performances to be applauded and that's what the Olympic Games is about," said IOC spokesperson Mark Adams. "We're not in control, nor should we be, of social media and unfortunately these incidents do come up from time to time. It's regrettable.
"I haven't seen the comments but I can imagine. We've had it, as I say, in previous Games. All we can do is say let's concentrate on what was a great performance and congratulations by the way to Canada for the bronze medal. I was there last night and it was pretty amazing."
Some Canadian sport organizations have their own protocol in place for toxic interactions on social media. Melody Davidson, general manager of Hockey Canada's national team women's teams programs, said player social media accounts are monitored by media attache Morgan Bell.
"Anything that comes up, whether it's a fan that's continually coming to them or reporters continually asking for interview or whatever, they just chat with Morgan," said Davidson. "If she thinks it needs to go any further she'll come and see me and we'll go from there."
The Canadian Press