Winter Olympics: South Korean speed skaters face calls for ban after blaming teammate for defeat

A petition has been signed by 500,000 outraged fans.
A petition has been signed by 500,000 outraged fans. Photo credit: Reuters

Over 500,000 fans have signed a petition to have two South Korean speed skaters banned from the national team, after blaming a teammate for their failure to reach the women's team pursuit semi-finals.

Kim Bo-Reum and Park Ji-woo crossed the line almost four seconds ahead of the third Korean skater, Noh Seon-Yeong, in the quarter-finals on Monday (Tuesday NZ time) as they finished seventh in the quarter-finals.

In the pursuit, the clock only stops when the final skater has crossed the line and teams usually finish with all three skaters bunched together.

TV footage also showed Noh sobbing after the race, being comforted only by her coach Bob De Jong. Kim and Park appeared to do nothing while Noh was in tears.

The outrage caused fans to start a petition to have Kim and Park banned and, as of Wednesday afternoon (local time), more than 500,000 people had signed the petition lodged with the presidential Blue House.

"We do not want skaters like Kim and Park to represent our country," said one person who signed the petition online. "They (Kim and Park) bring such a shame to our nation."

If a demand receives over 200,000 signatures within 30 days, the Blue House must address the issue. It has yet to give an answer.