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Fourth-Place Medal

IOC doesn’t want South Korean player to accept bronze after making political statement

Chris Chase
Fourth-Place Medal

(via Chron News)

The London Olympics began with a flap about delicate Korean political tensions. The Games will end with one too.

IOC officials have recommended that a South Korean soccer player will be barred from collecting his bronze medal after he celebrated his team's victory over Japan by holding a sign that addressed an ongoing, hot-button political flap in the region.

Jongwoo Park held up a sign that read, "Dokdo is our land," a reference to a peninsula that both the Japanese and Koreans claim as their own.

Following a review, the IOC requested that Park not take part in the medal ceremony due to violation of rules prohibiting political statements by athletes.

Earlier in the day, South Korean president Lee Myung-bak raised political anxieties by traveling to the group of uninhabited islets (called Takeshima in Japanese). The Associated Press reports he told policeman that the islands were "worth sacrificing lives for."

A Japanese official called Lee's trip "incomprehensible."

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At the start of the Olympics, the South Korean flag was displayed during a North Korean soccer game. Officials from North Korea refused to let their players take the pitch until a correction was made.

UPDATE: South Korea complied with the IOC's request that Park be excluded from the medal ceremony on Saturday. The crowd at Wembley Stadium was informed of his absence.

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