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IOC urges South Korea to bar soccer player from ceremony

The South Korean player was spotted holding a flag supporting the sovereignty of islands disputed by his home country and Japan.

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The International Olympic Committee urged South Korea to bar a footballer from the bronze medal ceremony Saturday after he flashed a political message on the field. (Michael Steele/Getty Images)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) urged South Korea to bar a footballer from the bronze medal ceremony after being photographed holding a political message.

The South Korean player was spotted holding a flag supporting the sovereignty of islands disputed by his home country and Japan.

The two islands, which are known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea - Liancourt Rocks in English - are equidistant from both countries, reported the Associated Press.

Claims to the island go back hundreds of years and have caused various protests and demonstrations in both South Korea and Japan.

Fifa had already said that it would investigate the incident, while the IOC got involved in the dispute today.

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Both forbid political statements at matches.

The bronze medal game was held just hours after South Korean president Lee Myung-bak visited the disputed islands, causing Japan to recall its ambassador to the country, reported Asahi Shimbun.

It was feared that the match, which South Korea won 2-0, was going to further raise diplomatic tensions, said the Guardian, yet was free of incident.

On Saturday, according to Reuters, the IOC made a statement that read, "We have opened an inquiry and have asked the NOC of the Republic of Korea for an explanation," the International Olympic Committee said in a statement on Saturday. We have also requested that the Republic of Korea NOC takes swift action on this issue and that the athlete not be present at this afternoon's medal presentation ceremony."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business/120811/ioc-urges-south-korea-bar-soccer-player-ceremony