KEIR RADNEDGE in LAUSANNE: Park Jong-woo, the South Korean footballer who triggered a diplomatic incident with his winning exuberance at London 2012, will receive his due bronze medal after all.
A happy ending to the tale was confirmed today by the International Olympic Committee after the issue had been considered by a meeting of its 15-strong executive board at the Lausanne Palace Hotel.
Park had been banished from the football medals ceremony at Wembley after parading a banner proclaiming the Koreans’ rights in a territorial dispute with Japan, the nation they had just beaten in the third-place play-off.
The two countries have long been at loggerheads over islands known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea.
Team officials said after the game that, in the excitement of the moment, Park had not given the deeper consequences a moment’s thought when he accepted, from a fan, a banner which bore the message: “Dokdo is our territory.”
However his one-man statement infringed Olympic and world football rules about political messaging by players and officials within a match context.
To make matters worse, tension between the countries had been inflamed earlier in the week when South Korean President Lee Myung-bak made a surprise visit to the islands.
The day after the game the Japanese government said it intended to take the territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice.
Both the International Olympic Committee and world football federation launched inquiries while the South Korean NOC acquiesed to an IOC demand and sent only 17 members of their 18-strong football squad to Wembley to collect their bronze medals.
The South Korean football association also wrote to the Japanese federation explaining that Park’s behaviour had been merely “an impulsive act” and hoping that the two FAs “will be able to work together to prevent similar incidents in the future.”
Those gestures were appreciated by the IOC and FIFA but not so much back home.
The KFA was criticisied for not standing up for its player by several members of the National Assembly and by Hong Myung-bo, the Olympic team coach.
Hong, one of the most respected figures in Korean footall after captaining the co-hosts to fourth place in the 2002 World Cup, said that the KFA had been wrong to bar Park from both the medal ceremony and subsequent celebratory receptions and should be given his medal at the first opportunity.
FIFA imposed a two-match suspension ban and a $3,800 fine.
The IOC order now is that Park should receive his medal but “without fanfare or publicity” and that the Korean sports federations should educate their athletes in the philosophy of the Olympic Charter.
LAUSANNE: The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today issued strong warnings to Korean footballer Jong woo Park and the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) for inappropriate behaviour exhibited by the athlete during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The EB also called on the KOC to submit, for the IOC’s review and approval, a programme proposed and designed by the KOC to educate its athletes on the rules of the Olympic Charter and respect for Olympic values.
The Korean men’s football team finished third at London 2012, and the EB has informed the KOC to deliver a bronze medal to Park as long as it done without fanfare or publicity of any kind.
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