Short-track speedskater Kim Boutin shut down all her social media accounts Wednesday after hundreds of angry tweets were directed at her by irate South Koreans in the wake of her controversial bronze-medal win in the 500-metre race at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
Boutin finished fourth, but was promoted to third when South Korea’s Minjeong Choi was disqualified for interfering with the Canadian. Angry fans, mainly from South Korea, tweeted animated gifs or still images from the race, claiming that Boutin had pushed Choi.
“Congratulations on a dirty medal,” one message said.
“You had been teaching Kim Boutin how to cheat, Canada!!” said another on Twitter.
Boutin, from Sherbrooke, Que., closed her social media accounts and the RCMP, the IOC and Speed Skating Canada began investigations.
“The health, safety and security of all our team members is our top priority and as such we are working closely with Speed Skating Canada, our security personnel and the RCMP,” said a statement from the Canadian Olympic Committee. “We will not make further comment on this issue, so that Kim can focus on her upcoming events.”
The subject was also raised later in the day at the International Olympic Committee’s media briefing.
“Clearly what we want is for great performances to be applauded and that’s what the Olympic Games is about,” said IOC spokesperson Mark Adams. “We’re not in control, nor should we be, of social media and unfortunately these incidents do come up from time to time. It’s regrettable.
“I haven’t seen the comments but I can imagine. We’ve had it, as I say, in previous Games. All we can do is say let’s concentrate on what was a great performance and congratulations by the way to Canada for the bronze medal. I was there last night and it was pretty amazing.”
In figure skating, Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford were third in the pairs event after the short program.
The two-time world champions, who will retire after the Olympics, scored 76.82 points for their skate to April Meservy’s cover of U2’s hit song “With or Without You.”
China’s reigning world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong scored 82.39 points for the flawless skate to Canadian k.d. lang’s version of “Hallelujah.”
Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, representing Olympic Athletes from Russia, were the last team to go, bumping Duhamel and Radford down to third with an 81.68-point performance.
Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot were fourth with 76.59 points.
Canada’s other pairs duos also qualified for the free skate. Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau were 12th with 67.52 points. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro were 13th with 65.68.
The men’s curling tournament began on Wednesday with Calgary’s Kevin Koe leading Canada to a 5-3 win over Italy in the first draw.
Canada scored a deuce in the eighth end to break a 2-2 tie but the Italians came right back with a double takeout to earn a single in the ninth. Holding hammer in the 10th, Koe earned an easy point with his final stone for the game’s decisive score.
The Canadians will play Britain in the day’s second draw.
The top four teams in the 10-nation round robin advance to the semifinals.