Lim Hyo-jun actually became a Chinese national last year
Korean-born short track speed skater Lim Hyo-jun acquired Chinese nationality last year, according to information from the Korea Immigration Service released on Wednesday.
Sources added that Lim will serve as a player-coach in Hubei, China.
According to an official release from the Daegu Immigration and Foreign Office on Wednesday, Lim had already acquired Chinese citizenship on June 3 last year and lost his Korean citizenship.
The fact that the Olympic medalist had applied for Chinese citizenship was first revealed on March 6, through his agency saying that “Lim wanted to win his second straight Olympic gold medal in Beijing as a Korean representative, but he hasn't been able to train anywhere in Korea for the past two years,” adding that “He just wanted to find ways to put his skates back on as an ice skater.”
Lim was the ace of the Korean men's short track team, winning gold and bronze at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
In June 2019, Lim allegedly pulled down the pants of a fellow skater during a rock climbing training session at Jincheon National Training Center, exposing the male teammate while female skaters were present.
The Korea Skating Union banned Lim for one year, but he filed for an injunction with the court in December 2019. The one-year punishment was frozen at that point.
According to athletics officials, Lim received a number of naturalization requests by China. China’s short track team has Wu Dajing, but they are relatively weak in middle- and long-distance racers, a gap that Lim is expected to fill.
But despite Lim's stated plan, he might not be able to compete at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics due to International Olympic Committee rules that he apparently wasn't aware of before choosing to take Chinese nationality.
According to the IOC charter, a competitor may participate in the Olympic Games to represent their new country provided that at least three years have passed since the competitor last represented their former country.
There is an exception to the clause with the permission of the national Olympic committees and international federations concerned. Considering the impact Lim competing could have on Team Korea's chances, it seems likely the Korean Sports & Olympic Committee will not allow it.
Sources said Lim had made a contract with the local skating federation for Hubei Province and not the Chinese Skating Association, and Lim will double as a skater and a coach.
BY SEO JI-EUN, JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]