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North Korean Speed Skater Appears to Trip Japanese Opponent After Falling At Olympics

2 minute read

North Korean speed skater Jong Kwang Bom appeared to try to trip his Japanese opponent Keita Watanabe during a men’s 500m short track heat on Tuesday, prompting Olympic officials to restart the race.

After falling within the first few seconds of the event, Kwang Bom reached out and grabbed the skate of Watanabe in an apparent attempt to take down the rival skater. However, for his part, Watanabe said that he doesn’t think the move was calculated.

“I believe it was unintentional,” he explained, according to Yahoo Sports. “His hand happened to be by my skate as he fell down.”

Japanese coach Jonathan Guilmette seemed to agree. “I don’t know what was his intention,” he said. “It is really hard to judge what’s the intention. I don’t know if he tried to grab the skates or if he is just trying to hold onto something like a reflex—there are so many hands all over in our sport. That was a reflex thing more than trying to trip over someone else.”

Despite the restart, Kwang Bom ended up being disqualified from the race after bumping into Watanabe and falling once again during the skaters’ second run.

Watch the clip below.

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Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com