|KOC chief Park Yong-sung shows off Park Jong-woo’s bronze medal at Incheon International Airport on Thursday. (Yonhap News)|
INCHEON (Yonhap News) ― The head of South Korea’s top sports body returned home Thursday with a much-awaited Olympic bronze medal that had been denied to a footballer since last August for his controversial celebration at the London Games.
Arriving from the International Olympic Committee meetings in Switzerland, Park Yong-sung, the head of the Korean Olympic Committee, brought with him the bronze medal for football player Park Jong-woo.
The player had been prohibited from receiving the medal that South Korea claimed by beating Japan last August in London, after he celebrated the win with what the IOC had deemed a political statement.
Following a disciplinary hearing Monday, the IOC decided on Tuesday to award Park Jong-woo the medal.
“I’ve brought the medal you’ve all been waiting for,” Park Yong-sung told reporters at Incheon International Airport.
“We had some difficulties but handled them well. We were also satisfied that the IOC didn’t take any drastic measures.”
Park Yong-sung said he will hand the medal to the footballer “quietly,” just as the IOC ordered the KOC to do.
South Korea accomplished another coup in sports diplomacy in Switzerland, as taekwondo, the country’s traditional martial art, stayed on as one of 25 “core sports” in the Summer Olympics.
In a secret ballot by the IOC Executive Board, wrestling was voted off the Olympic program for the 2020 Summer Games.