The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has signed off on an Olympic medal certificate for a Korean football player who was banned from collecting his medal following a controversial post-match celebration at the London Games, an official here said Wednesday.
The Korea Football Association (KFA) official said the London Olympics organizing committee issued bronze medal certificates for the South Korean team, signed by the IOC President Jacques Rogge. Park Jong-woo, the midfielder who was barred from the medal ceremony in London following his celebration, was among the recipients of the certificates, the official added.
"The Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) handed over the certificates to the KFA on Tuesday," the official said. "And Park Jong-woo's certificate was included."
Korea defeated Japan 2-0 to win its first Olympic football medal in London in August. Park was barred from the ceremony to collect his bronze medal and remains under disciplinary investigation by FIFA after displaying a sign that read, in Korean, "Dokdo Is Our Territory."
Dokdo is a group of South Korea's easternmost islets, to which Japan has also laid territorial claims. It has been a source of diplomatic tensions between the Northeast Asian neighbors for years. Park was given the sign by a fan in the stands.
The IOC's Olympic Charter prohibits any display of political statements by participating athletes, coaches and even fans.
FIFA had been scheduled to issue a disciplinary ruling on Park on Oct. 5 but postponed that decision. FIFA said at the time it would discuss Park's case again the following week, but no decision has yet been reached.
Instead, the international football governing body has sought additional information from the KFA.
Korean officials downplayed the issuing of the certificates, however, saying athletes ordinarily receive them whether they have collected physical medals or not.
"Certificates are typically issued for athletes who win Olympic medals," a KOC official said. "Park Jong-woo is listed as a bronze medalist on the IOC's Web site."
FIFA will report its ruling, once reached, to the IOC, which will then use it as a reference for its final disciplinary action.
Korean officials have defended the player, claiming that Park's action was not premeditated and he held up the sign in the heat of the moment. (Yonhap)