Almost half a million people in South Korea have signed a petition demanding the removal of two speed skaters from their country's national team for their supposed bullying of a fellow teammate, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.
South Korean speed skaters Kim Bo-reum and Park Ji-woo were participating in the 500M team pursuit heats Monday with their teammate Noh Seon-yeong. They finished seventh, with Noh trailing four seconds behind her other teammates.
Speaking to a reporter after the heat, Kim blamed their loss and failure to qualify for the semifinals on Noh.
“We were skating well,” she said. “But the last skater [Noh] couldn’t keep up and we had a disappointing score.”
Park said she was “shocked” when she crossed the finish line because that’s when she realized Noh was not with them.
Noh was reportedly seen crying after the race, being comforted by her coach while Kim and Park didn’t acknowledge her.
A petition was signed on the president’s website demanding Kim and Park’s removal from the national team, saying it was "a clear national disgrace that such people with a personality problem are representing a country in the Olympics.”
Kim’s sponsorship with a sportswear company declined to renew her contract in the wake of the unfolding drama. On Tuesday Kim and Park held a press conference in which Kim issued a tearful apology to “those who have been affected by what I said during the TV interview yesterday.” Noh did not attend.
Noh was reportedly added to the Olympic team because of a “mix-up” by the Korea Skating Union, despite not meeting the requirements to be included, The Chronicle reported. She was officially added after Kim and Park were dropped.