Dutch apologies galore after double faux pas at Olympics
By RAF CASERT, AP Sports Writer
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — After the Dutch speedskating team botched its men’s team pursuit race and had to settle for Olympic bronze, things might have gotten even worse.
On Thursday, there were several apologies to be made.
First, there was an accident during the ceremonial throwing of a giant mock medal at the team’s Holland Heineken House to mark the third-place finish.
The same evening, pursuit skater Jan Blokhuijsen ruffled sensitivities by addressing the fate of dogs in South Korea with a short remark at his post-race news conference.
“People who know me know I care intensely about the well-being of animals,” Blokhuijsen said Thursday in a statement. “However, I should not have made this remark at the moment or the place.”
The Korea Times reported that the skater said, “Please treat dogs better in this country.”
Blokhuijsen realized he had overstepped a line.
“By now it is clear that many people in Korea were insulted by this remark,” he said, adding he did not intend to slight the Korean people and culture.
Koreans have been eating dog for thousands of years, though the practice has waned recently and most in the country don’t do it regularly. Many older Koreans believe dog meat aids virility, though younger citizens are largely either against the practice or indifferent to it.
Blokhuijsen’s apology was not the only one.
Two female visitors at the Holland Heineken House were injured when a giant mock medal was thrown into a crowd on Wednesday night.
The medal was thrown by Blokhuijsen and speedskating teammates Sven Kramer, Patrick Roest and Koen Verweij as they marked their bronze medal in the team pursuit, an event they were heavily favored to win.
First, team leader Kramer issued an apology in Korean on Thursday, saying he was hoping for a quick recovery for the two injured fans.
That was followed up by a joint apology.
“Fortunately, things are going well with both ladies considering the circumstances, even though it was a shock to them,” the four skaters said in a statement. “Let it be clear we never had any intention to cause this.”
More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org