On Feb. 20, North Korean speed skater Jong Kwang Bom crashed onto the ice during an Olympic pre-heat on two separate occasions. He was then disqualified for pushing a competitor, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Bom was competing to qualify for the men’s 500-meter short-track speed skating event. Straight out of the starting line, Bom fell to the ice.
North Korean speed skater falls, tries to TRIP Japanese opponent!? Isn’t that a quick way to lose a finger or three? pic.twitter.com/Y4e3raqIn4
— Michael King (@mhking) February 21, 2018
The nature of the fall caused onlookers to speculate that Bom may have been trying to cause his Japanese competitor, Ryosuke Sakazume, to fall. Sakazume said he didn’t notice any sign of foul play.
Olympic officials permitted a restart, Yahoo! Sports reported, ignoring race rules.
Halfway through a lap, Bom seemingly fell a second time, again getting intertwined with Sakazume and pushing him.
Sakazume gained control and continued on, but Bom fell to the ice and slid off to the side.
While Bom did complete the race, he took fourth place and was then disqualified by officials. Sakazume took second place in the race and advanced to the next round.
Sakazume reportedly chalked the moment up as coincidence, saying: “I believe it was unintentional. His hand happened to be by my skate as he fell down.”
Sakazume’s coach, Jonathan Guilmette, said, “It is really hard to judge what the intention is. I don’t know if he tried to grab the skates or if he is just trying to hold onto something like a reflex – there are so many hands all over in our sport. That was a reflex thing more than trying to trip over someone else.”