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Speed skating uniform controversy enters court

The controversy surrounding the uniform for the national speed skating teams boiled over into court Monday.

At loggerheads over the uniform selection process are the Korean firm FILA Korea and the Dutch apparel company Hunter.

The Korea Skating Union (KSU) recently chose Hunter as its new supplier, after its contract with FILA expired at the end of April. FILA had been supplying skating uniforms since October 2012.

In protest, FILA released the results of a study last week showing its products were lighter and offered less air resistance. FILA also said Hunter’s uniforms will cost skaters more than a second off their times.

Then on Monday, FILA said it has filed a court injunction against the KSU’s uniform supplier selection process, saying the organization has violated the spirit of fair play.

The KSU tested uniforms from three companies - FILA, Hunter and Mizuno - on eight speed skaters and short track speed skaters, and seven of those eight preferred Hunter.

The KSU has maintained that its selection process has been clean since the athletes themselves picked Hunter.

FILA countered that using the athletes’ comfort level with uniforms was highly unreliable and subjective, and since the tests were done behind closed doors, it was difficult to verify their transparency and fairness.

FILA also accused the KSU of limiting the company’s rights as the national team corporate sponsor without reasonable grounds, and added the KSU also stripped FILA of an opportunity to enter the proper bidding to remain as a sponsor by making unreasonable demands at the last minute.

FILA claimed that the KSU opened the bidding only to the companies that had previous business dealings with Hunter.


Soprano named honorary envoy for PyeongChang

Renowned Korean soprano Sumi Jo on Monday was named an honorary ambassador for the first Winter Olympics to be held in the country next year.

The organizing committee for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics appointed Jo as its goodwill spokesperson in a ceremony in Seoul. She joins the string ensemble Sejong Soloists as classical musicians to become honorary ambassadors for PyeongChang 2018.

“I’d like to deliver a message of peace through the PyeongChang Olympics,” Jo said. “If I ever get invited (to the opening ceremony), I’d love to perform in the traditional white dress.”

Jo had also served as an honorary ambassador for PyeongChang’s Olympic bidding committees for the 2010 and 2014 Games.

She has performed at the ceremonies for the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

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