2:48 PM EDT, March 10, 2014
In a story published late last week on the International Olympic Committee’s web site about how the Youth Olympic Games inspired Olympic success in Sochi, an unidentified student reporter apparently quoted figure skating champion Yuna Kim inaccurately.
Kim’s management company, All That Sports, asked the IOC to remove the quote.
The IOC did that it in a way guaranteed to raise questions.
And there is also the question of why All That Sports felt compelled to make an issue of the quote.
After all, as the story originally and accurately said, the quote definitely “made Kim look magnanimous in defeat.”
Now she seems less so.
And the IOC seems unprofessional.
So neither side comes off well here.
The story said 2010 Olympic champion Kim had given 2014 Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova "invaluable" advice about preparing for the future while watching the Russian at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria. No one seems to be disputing that.
The original version of the story also quoted Kim this way, praising Sotnikova for her performance at the Sochi Olympics:
“She put on a great show,” said the Korean of her young Russian rival. “She’s a highly technical skater and was very difficult to beat tonight. I saw her in Innsbruck as part of my role as Games ambassador. We both battled for gold tonight, but she managed to come out on top.”
That quote no longer appears in the story currently on the IOC’s web site. No reason for the omission or reference to it is given.
The quote’s inclusion could be seen as an IOC effort to tamp down the ongoing controversy about Sotnikova’s winning the Olympic gold medal in a much-debated decision over Kim, one of the IOC’s Youth Olympic Games ambassadors.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said in an email it was his understanding the change was made after Kim’s agent “contacted us to say she felt that the quote was not accurate. We felt it better to remove it since this was not integral to the story.”
Adams said the story was originally written by a “student reporter.” As part of the Youth Olympic Games, an event that debuted in 2010, the IOC created a Young Reporters Program to train journalism students and young journalism professionals.
Kim Sun Young, marketing director of All That Sports, confirmed in an email that her agency had requested the change. She did not answer the questions of why the agency felt that request was important or what specifically in the quote was inaccurate.
"Because Yuna Kim did not say those words after the competition, we asked IOC to remove it from the article,” the email said.
At about the same time, according to Korea’s Yonhap news agency, All That Sports had threatened legal action for “quite a lot of speculative reporting related to Kim's relationship with an ice hockey player that can be seen as defamation and a serious breach of privacy.”
The day before, the agency had confirmed the relationship with the player.
Did All That Sports go after the quote to add fuel to the frenzy of those, especially in South Korea, who have alleged a judging conspiracy allowed Sotnikova to become the surprise gold medalist?
There is as yet no evidence to support such claims. Attempts to use the scores as evidence are irrelevant because the anonymity in the judging system means no one knows which judge gave which scores, except for the few International Skating Union officials privy to such information.
The conspiracy claims have been bolstered by ISU’s poor judgment in allowing the women’s free skate panel to include a Russian judge married to a top official of the Russian Figure Skating Association and a Ukrainian judge suspended one year for result fixing.
As usual, the ISU looks worst of all.
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