Asia-Pacific

IOC withholds football medal from S Korea's Park Jong-woo

South Korea"s Park Jong-woo holds up a banner reading "Dokdo is our Territory" - 10/8/12
S Korean officials say the banner came from a spectator

The International Olympic Committee is temporarily withholding a bronze medal from a South Korean football player who displayed a political sign after a win against Japan.

Midfielder Park Jong-woo brandished a banner referring to islands claimed by both South Korea and Japan.

The IOC barred him from taking part in Saturday's medal ceremony.

It has asked football's governing body Fifa to discipline Park, and says it may decide on further sanctions later.

The committee said it would withhold the bronze medal until the case is reviewed by Fifa.

IOC president Jacques Rogge told reporters: "We will take a possible decision of what will happen with the medal later."

After South Korea beat Japan 2-0 on Friday, Park held up a sign with the national flag and a slogan supporting his country's claim over the islands - known as Dokdo in South Korea and as Takeshima in Japan.

The South Korea Olympic Committee later said that Park had seized the sign from a fan, stressing that the incident had not been pre-planned.

The statutes of both the IOC and Fifa prohibit political statements by athletes and players.

Friday's match came hours after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited the islands.

The move prompted Japan to recall its ambassador in Seoul.

The uninhabited islands, which are roughly equidistant from the two countries, are small but lie in fishing grounds which could also contain large gas deposits.

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