The Olympic Games in their modern incarnation are meant to foster international diplomacy in the name of sports, so if there’s one thing you don’t expect as an Olympian, it’s to experience heartbreak and bullying at the hands of your own teammates.
However that’s exactly what happened to Noh Seon-yeong — and as a result, a pair of South Korean speed skaters have improbably prompted hundreds of thousands of their countrymen and women to rally for their expulsion from the remainder of the PyeongChang Games.
At the time this was published, nearly 600,000 South Koreans had signed a petition addressed to the presidential office, calling for Kim Bo-Reum and Park Ji Woo to be kicked out of the Games as a consequence for how they treated teammate Noh after their elimination from the ladies team pursuit quarterfinals race on Tuesday.
After the race, Kim gave an interview in which she outright blamed Noh for losing them the race. “We were skating well,” she said of herself and Park. “But the last skater couldn’t keep up and we had a disappointing score.”
The team pursuit is unique in the sense only the slowest team member’s time matters, and for the South Koreans, that was Noh. Of course, the skaters are meant to work together to ensure that they all finish as quickly as possible. Instead though, it appeared that Kim and Park all but abandoned their third teammate during the race, potentially resulting in her finishing four seconds back from them.
The petition pulls no punches in its condemnation of Kim and Park’s behavior.
“It’s clearly a disgrace to our national image that these individuals of bad character are representing this country at the Olympics,” it reads.
It’s unclear how a dismissal from the Games would effect the pair of South Korean speed skaters at this point, as both Kim and Park are competing in the ladies mass start event, but those who signed the petition would presumably at least want to see them excluded from the Closing Ceremony.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Kim and Park were done competing. They are scheduled to compete in the ladies mass start event.
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