Sports have the power to move people. The rules of fair play, the heat of competition and the efforts of the players are just some of the things that make sports so beautiful. The beauty of athletes performing at the top of their profession helps lift it to an art form.
This is sportsmanship. However, if the skills gained through painful effort and training are stomped on by lies and collusion, then that thing no longer deserves to be called a sport but becomes little more than an ugly fighting ring.
It has been revealed that the rumor that short-track speed skating matches at the Vancouver Olympics were rigged is true. The Korean Olympic Committee announced that Lee Jung-su, who won two gold medals in the sport in those games, declined to participate in the World Short-Track Speed Skating Championships because of pressure from the coaching staff.
He had to make “concessions” so other players had the opportunity to win.
Furthermore, when athletes were being selected for the national team last year, some short-track speed skating coaches and athletes apparently “agreed” to “make sure players got selected together” and that all of them “would have the opportunity to win medals at international competitions.”
It is astonishing that selection of members of the national team is rigged. The public, which cheered passionately for the athletes in Vancouver, cannot hide its anger and disappointment.
Over the years, short-track speed skating coaches and players have been divisive, focusing only on certain universities and creating cliques. That is why rumors of thrown matches and unfair play at various competitions persist, in addition to the rumors that good athletes with proven abilities did not make it on the national team because they were sacrificed in the fight for power.
We appreciate the passion and sacrifices of those who made Korea dominant in short-track speed skating. Nevertheless, as shown at Vancouver, we are still behind China, and Europe is catching up with us. If we do not escape from the deep-rooted ills of the short-track speed skating world, we could fall further.
News of corruption and cheating in sports always breaks just when the public is about to forget about the previous incident. The recent short-track speed skating debacle is just the tip of the iceberg.
As with another recent incident in the world of football, when a coach was caught trying to bribe a referee, the sports world is tainted with different types of corruption.
Sports professionals need to take a hard look at themselves.
There must be no taint in victory.