Canadian short-track speedskater Kim Boutin has received death threats and was subjected to online abuse by furious Korean fans after she was awarded a bronze medal following the disqualification of a South Korean athlete in the 500-metre race at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The Quebec athlete finished fourth on Tuesday, but was bumped into third place when judges disqualified South Korea’s Choi Min-jeong, who finished second in the race, for interfering with Italy’s Arianna Fontana and Boutin.
The ruling infuriated many South Korean fans who felt Boutin was at fault and should have been disqualified for pushing Min-jeong out of her lane.
Thousands of angry messages flooded Boutin’s social media accounts, forcing her to lock her Twitter account.
“Congratulations on a dirty medal,” one message said. “Did you’re [sic] papa teach u to cheat for your medal”
“Cut off your dirty hands!!” said another post on Twitter.
However, many other South Koreans apologized to Boutin for the conduct of some of their compatriots, sending her messages of support.
“On behalf of Koreans, I would like to apologize wholeheartedly and congratulate you on the bronze medal,” said one message. “I’m really, really sorry”
Canada’s federal police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the International Olympic Committee and Speed Skating Canada were looking into the matter.
“The health, safety and security of all our team members is our top priority and as such we are working closely with Speed Skating Canada, our security personnel and the RCMP,” said a statement from the Canadian Olympic Committee. “We will not make further comment on this issue, so that Kim can focus on her upcoming events.”
Boutin will have another chance at the podium when she competes on Saturday in the 1,500 as well as the 3,000 relay final and 1,000 qualification round next week.
With files from CBC News