Korea Skating Union President Yoon Hong-geun speaks during a press conference at the Beijing Olympics Main Media Center, Tuesday. (Yonhap)
South Korea is to file an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) concerning refereeing decisions that disqualified two of the country’s short track speedskaters at Beijing 2022 Monday night.
Yoon Hong-geun, president of the Korea Skating Union and the head of South Korea’s athletic delegation, said Tuesday that the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC) will appeal with the highest international sports tribunal to “publicize the unfairness” that resulted in the disqualification of Korean skaters Hwang Dae-heon and Lee June-seo in the men’s 1,000-meter semifinals.
“We will take every possible measure to bring the disqualification cases to the CAS to prevent a recurrence that could happen to international skating and sporting communities in the future,” Yoon said during an emergency press conference held at the Beijing Olympics Main Media Center.
“The delegation strongly protested at the stadium last night and letters of protest have also been sent to the chief referee at the race, the International Skating Union and the International Olympic Committee (IOC),” adding that the scores of people around the world who watched Monday’s sports event are the “referees.”
Choi Yong-koo, an ISU referee and head of the country’s short track team support team, claimed that making more than one “wrongful” refereeing decision was “intentional.” He said last night’s refereeing decisions were clearly “bad calls,” and that the ISU’s rejection of the South Korean protest was expected.
The appeal will mark the first time in 18 years for Korea to file a case with the CAS. At the 2004 Olympics, a judging error of one-tenth of a point cost gymnast Yang Tae-young the gold medal in the all-around competition. However, the CAS dismissed Yang’s appeal and said the referee error was not subject to reversal.
Lee June-seo of South Korea (center) advances in front of Wu Dajing of China (right) during the semifinals of the men’s 1,000-meter short track speedskating at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on Monday. (Yonhap)
Ahead of Tuesday morning’s press conference, the KSOC released a statement which said, “We’ll do our best to ensure our athletes won’t be treated so unfairly. ... We are hoping our latest decision will provide a momentum in preventing any repetition of similarly unfair decisions against South Korean athletes in international speedskating events.”
In a statement released Tuesday, the International Skating Union said that the decisions cannot be challenged.
The South Korean athletic delegation has requested a meeting with IOC President Thomas Bach on the issue.
Korean short track skaters had raised concerns about refereeing in Beijing even before the Olympics began. Their concerns came true as short trackers Hwang and Lee were disqualified from the men’s 1,000-meter semifinals of short track speedskating event held at Capital Indoor Stadium.
Hwang, the world-record holder in the event, came in first in his semifinal but was disqualified for an “illegal late passing” and causing contact. Lee finished second in a separate semifinal but was penalized for making a lane change that interfered with a Hungarian skater. Chinese athletes advanced to the final as a result of the eliminations.
South Korea was not the only country who raised questions over the referee’s decisions. Hungary also filed a protest after Liu Shaolin Sandor, who came in first in the race, received a yellow card for two penalties in the 1,000-meter final. The protest was also rejected. The final event ended with Chinese skater Ren Ziwei taking gold, followed by China’s Li Wenlong taking silver.
Controversy also erupted over a series of disqualifications during the mixed team ski jumping final event on Monday as well. Five female jumpers from Japan, Austria, Norway and Germany were disqualified for suit violations.
Meanwhile, KSOC’s press conference in Beijing was attended by a number of foreign reporters, but the press conference was conducted solely in Korean without interpretation services. One foreign correspondent complained about the lack of interpretation and left the venue.
By Jie Ye-eun (email@example.com