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Aftermath of uniform without Korea mark

Posted July. 18, 2019 09:07,   

Updated July. 18, 2019 09:07


A conspiracy theory is spreading among swimmers regarding the uniform of South Korea’s national swim team. The internal conflicts in the Korea Swimming Federation caused the incident but the unexplained delay in the sponsor’s response is exacerbating the controversy.

After some issues were revealed regarding the items intended for the national swim team at the 2019 Gwangju World Aquatics Championships, the swimming federation hurried to address the situation by sending an executive-level investigation team to the site in question. However, the team is struggling with the rather relaxed attitude of the sponsor company A. “We really got served by them,” some said.

Company A’s sponsorship for the federation dates back to 1992. The company has served as an official sponsor of the federation, providing necessary items to the national swim team at major international competitions, including the Olympics, World Aquatics Championships, and Asian Games. The executive department of the Korea Swimming Federation changed multiple times during the period, but the global brand A’s position as a sponsor has persisted.

Following the inauguration of the new executive team in July last year, company B was voted as a new sponsor by the board of directors of the federation, but company A ended up maintaining its sponsor position due to a reversed decision by the board. The long-term relationship between the federation and company A, independent of the new executive team, played a big role in such development.

The controversial uniform was designed for South Korea’s national swimmers with relevant features, such as a South Korean flag on the left chest. On its back, however, company A’s logo was placed instead of the name of the country. “We fully admit that we were at fault in the beginning,” said an official of the Korea Swimming Federation. “However, we are finding it very difficult to brush this incident as an honest mistake as this was done by company A with decades of experience working together for countless competitions, not a new sponsor with no experience.”

Twenty-nine athletes for swimming race events who arrived in Gwangju on Wednesday are yet to receive their uniforms. They arrived in athlete’s villages in their uniforms at other previous international competitions.

Bae-Jung Kim wanted@donga.com