IOC calls online threats directed at Canadian medallist Kim Boutin unfortunate

By Radio-Canada Sports

Short track speed skater Kim Boutin, who won bronze in the 500-metre final Tuesday at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, has been subjected to threatening messages on social media from angry supporters of a South Korean skater.

They're furious with the Quebec athlete after Choi Min-jeong was disqualified from the race for interference after originally finishing second. 

After the event, photos that Boutin published months ago received thousands of comments, many of them abusive.

Boutin's father, Pierre Boutin, told Radio-Canada that Speed Skating Canada had telephoned him to say the situation was being handled jointly by the RCMP, Canadian Olympic Committee and the sport federation.

"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," the COC said in a statement.

Made aware of the online incidents early Thursday, the International Olympic Committee a their daily news conference said "we would ask everyone to respect the athletes and their performances and to support the great work they've done and to support the Olympic spirit."

"I think from the IOC's point of view, you know, none of us — unfortunately or fortunately — can control social media and the public has the right to say things," said IOC spokesperson Mark Adams. "I haven't seen comments, but we occasionally unfortunately do have these issues, and it's something we don't approve of.

"Obviously also something unfortunately we can't control and wouldn't want to control."

Many Koreans condemn comments

Many Korean users condemned the negative comments. The majority of the comments written in Hangul, the Korean alphabet, instead blamed the referee, rather than Boutin, for the incident.

"Everybody, please, it's the referee who should be insulted. The athlete did nothing wrong," wrote one. "As a Korean, I am very sad that some people would have left these messages."

"They're very sensitive right now. Please, forget all of this and enjoy the rest of the Olympic Games. I am so sorry," wrote another.

Those voices seeking to defuse the furor came after comments which included:

- "Aren't you ashamed to have cheated in the last Olympic Games?"

- "You're not a real athlete!"

- "You know what? You should be disqualified. Shame on you!"

- "If I find you, you will die."

- "Retire and I hope you have a hard life."

Boutin, of Sherbooke, Que., has since shut down her social media accounts,

She competes again on Saturday in the 1,500. Three days later, she'll race in the 3,000 relay final and the qualification round of the 1,000.

With files from CBC Sports