Friday, December 16, 2011

IOC to Change Name Listing of 1936 Marathon Gold Medalist Sohn

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/f-sp-tp0-20111216-877260.html

translated by Brett Larner

On Dec. 15 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that in its official website listing of Olympic medalists the entry for Japanese citizen and 1936 Berlin Olympics marathon gold medalist, the late Son Kitei, would be changed to Sohn Kee-Chung, the Korean pronunciation of his name.  The record will also include a note explaining that he was a native of the Korean peninsula, a Japanese colony at the time.

The Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) has long demanded that the listing of Son's name be changed from the Japanese reading "Son Kitei."  An IOC spokesperson commented, "We don't want to change Olympic history," explaining that the switch to the Korean pronunciation will not be made in the official records, to which a footnote giving the Korean pronunciation "Sohn Kee-Chung" will be appended.

Also to be included are an account of a Korean newspaper from that era which printed a picture of Son with the Japanese flag on his uniform erased, an act which resulted in the newspaper's staff being jailed, and other accounts of the Korean resistance against Japan.  The IOC spokesperson said, "We want to provide more information to help people understand the complicated history of that time."  The Korean media has responded to the announcement by saying, "We've gotten part of what we want."

Translator's note: No mention of 1936 bronze medalist Shoryu Nan, another Korean running under the Japanese military occupation.  As of this writing, the IOC website still lists Sohn Kee-Chung by the Japanese reading of his name.  Excluding Sohn and his uncertain official status, no Japanese man has ever won an Olympic marathon gold medal.

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