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(2nd LD) (Olympics) Dutch skater, delegation apologize for remark on Korea's treatment of dogs

2018/02/22 14:30

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(ATTN: CHANGES headline; UPDATES with apology by Dutch official)

By Kang Yoon-seung

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 22 (Yonhap) -- The Dutch delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics apologized Thursday over speed skater Jan Blokhuijsen's controversial remark, apparently targeted at dog meat consumption in South Korea.

Leaving a press conference after the Netherlands captured bronze in the men's team pursuit Wednesday, Blokhuijsen said, "Please treat dogs better in this country."

The news went viral, drawing angry reactions online from some South Koreans, who claimed that it was racist and ignorant of a different culture.

"I would like to offer my apology on the behalf of the Dutch Olympics for what happened and what he said," chef de mission Jeroen Bijl said in a press conference for the Korean press. "We do respect the culture, people in Korea and the country of Korea."

  

Jan Blokhuijsen of the Netherlands appears dejected after the men's team pursuit semifinal speed skating race at the Gangneung Oval at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, on Feb. 21, 2018, in this Associated Press photo. (Yonhap) Jan Blokhuijsen of the Netherlands appears dejected after the men's team pursuit semifinal speed skating race at the Gangneung Oval at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, on Feb. 21, 2018, in this Associated Press photo. (Yonhap)

He said he talked with Blokhuijsen about the incident, and told him that it was not desirable comments.

"You can be proud of the way you organize the games and the hospitality we have given in the last three weeks," said Bijl, a former national volleyball player in the Netherlands.

Blokhuijsen also apologized on Twitter.

"I want to apologize to the Korean people. It was not my intention to insult you and your country. I care about the welfare of animals in general," Blokhuijsen wrote. "And (I) hope we can make this a better place for both of us. I enjoy this Olympic Games and like to thank you for your hospitality."

   Blokhuijsen made the remark as he stood up from his seat at the news conference where the Dutch team remained only briefly because journalists did not have questions for the team. It was held at the Gangneung Oval, located in Gangneung, the sub-host city of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The Netherlands failed to defend the team pursuit title from Sochi 2014.

Although dog meat is no longer popular among younger generations, some older South Koreans still consider it a delicacy.

The debate over consuming dog meat is also ongoing in South Korea, with animal advocates condemning the brutality of consuming the animal, while others claim the tradition is no different from eating beef or pork.

colin@yna.co.kr

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