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As coronavirus spreads, S. Korea awaits word from int'l skating body on short track worlds

All Headlines 14:46 February 25, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 25 (Yonhap) -- Faced with the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, South Korea is awaiting a decision from the global skating federation on the status of the upcoming short track world championships in Seoul.

The Korea Skating Union (KSU) said it has been providing the International Skating Union (ISU) with regular updates on the situation regarding COVID-19 across South Korea. Seoul's Mokdong Ice Rink is scheduled to host the ISU's World Short Track Speed Skating Championships from March 13-15, but the recent surge in coronavirus infections in the country has left the competition in doubt.

In this Associated Press file photo from Feb. 9, 2020, Park Ji-won of South Korea (C) competes in the men's 1,500-meter final at the International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Dresden, Germany. (Yonhap)

"We're in close coordination with the ISU over the opening of the world championships," a KSU official said. "The ISU will have the final say on whether to postpone the event. It hasn't given us a clear answer yet."

South Korea has long been one of the dominant powers in short track, and leads the all-time medal race with 108 gold, 79 silver and 67 bronze medals.

The annual competition crowns overall champions based on skaters' individual performances. South Korea has produced two of the last three champions on the men's side, including Lim Hyo-jun in 2019, and three of the past five for women, with Choi Min-jeong being honored in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

From Feb. 4-9, the same Mokdong Ice Rink hosted another ISU event, the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, before the situation took a turn for the worse. Spectators were required to wear masks and fill out health questionnaires, and organizers installed thermal imaging cameras at the gate.

But the KSU acknowledged the situation now is different from even only three weeks ago. Mokdong Ice Rink, which also has a public rink below the competition track, announced Monday it will shut down until further notice.

In this Associated Press file photo from Feb. 8, 2020, Choi Min-jeong of South Korea celebrates winning the women's 1,500-meter gold medal at the International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Dresden, Germany. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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