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Restriction on transfer by Korean National Sports Festival

Restriction on transfer by Korean National Sports Festival

Posted September. 27, 2019 07:34,   

Updated September. 27, 2019 07:34


Jeonbuk Physical Education High School’s freshman and swim team member John Doe who was planning to compete at the 100th Korean National Sports Festival starting from October 4 took a deep sigh. He contemplated giving up his swimming career after the notification that he would not be able to compete at the sports event, for which he was training hard for several months.

Doe was registered as a swimmer in Gyeonggi Province where he resided until last year but later moved to Wanju to enter Jeonbuk Physical Education High School after he failed to pass the entrance exam for Gyeonggi Physical Education High School. There was an option for him to go to a regular high school near his residence and train in the school’s swim club, however he wanted to train in a more focused way and made the decision to go to a physical education school.

There was no issue until his admission. All physical education high schools in South Korea were recruiting students nation-wide and Doe received a letter of consent for transfer from his middle school, which is a document required for an athlete to move to a different city or province. However, a qualification regulation of the Korean National Sports Festival, which states that athletes in elementary, middle or high school cannot compete at the event if he or she was transferred to a new team after moving to a new city or province within a year from the opening date of the competition, squashed his chance of competing.

Those who have received a letter of consent for transfer are exempted from the regulation, but the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee denied his case on the grounds that it is not an official letter from an education office of a city or a province. “I had endured challenging off-season training during summer in hopes of competing at the Korean National Sports Festival,” Doe said in a frustrated voice. “I have been trying to regain my motivation and start training again, but I am not sure how well it’s going to turn out.” It was said that he cried upon the news banning him from competing, and even now his voice lacked the vigor of a young athlete.

The transfer restriction was introduced to prevent young athletes with potential from moving to the capital area from their rural hometowns. However, it failed to discourage eager parents who wish to provide a bigger arena for their children to train in, despite having to suffer some disadvantages. In addition, more students including Doe are moving away from their homes to enter a physical education school for a better chance to compete at sports events as such schools’ popularity has grown by allowing students to better focus on training.

There are a total of 16 freshmen who are banned from competing at the 100th Korean National Sports Festival for the same reason as Doe’s case in swimming alone. Who is to heal the pain suffered by young athletes who cannot even stand at a starting line due to adults’ misplaced rule?

Bae-Jung Kim wanted@donga.com