A South Korean soccer player was barred from receiving his bronze medal at the London Olympics on Saturday for displaying a sign with a political message after a victory over Japan in the third-place game.
The player, Park Jong-woo, held up a sign after South Korea’s 2-0 victory over Japan, claiming South Korean sovereignty over a set of barely inhabitable islands that are also claimed by Japan.
Mr. Park, a midfielder, played all 90 minutes of the game on Friday in Cardiff, Wales, then was photographed carrying a sign that read, “Dokdo is our territory.” The islands, called Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, lie in an area of rich fishing grounds and natural gas deposits.
Mr. Park faces investigations by both the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, soccer’s governing body, both of which strictly enforce rules forbidding athletes from making political statements on the field.
His protest came hours after South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak, paid a surprise visit to the islands. The visit infuriated Japan, which withdrew its ambassador from Seoul in protest.
Olympic officials asked South Korea’s Olympic committee to take action against Mr. Park, 23, while it investigates, and the Koreans responded by preventing him from taking part in the medal ceremony on Saturday. Mr. Park’s 17 teammates received their medals; his absence was not noted to the crowd of more than 80,000.
“We are looking into this incident but we are taking it very seriously,” a South Korean Olympic official, John Moon, told Reuters.
Mr. Park is the first medalist to get in trouble for making a political statement at these Games, but not the first political controversy here for the Koreas.
When the North Korean team marched onto the field before a first-round game against Colombia in Glasgow, the stadium’s video boards flashed an image of the South Korean flag. The North Koreans turned and left the field.
They were eventually persuaded to return, but the game began more than an hour late.