'Grave concern': China lashes 'irresponsible' Winter Games claims

Seen here, China's short track gold medallist in speed skating Ren Ziwei.
Ren Ziwei's speed skating gold medal for China has proven hugely controversial. Pic: Getty

China has taken aim at South Korea after shooting down accusations of favouritism as "irresponsible" from their Winter Olympics rivals.

The furore surrounds the speed skating program at the Winter Games in Beijing, in which South Korea launched an extraordinary complaint with the International Skating Union (ISU) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) amid claims of 'bias' from officials towards Chinese athletes.

'HEARTBROKEN': Star's haunting reveal after shocking Olympics incident

'THE PLOT THICKENS': Russian teen caught up in Olympics scandal

South Korea was left seething over the disqualifications of short track speed-skaters Hwang Daeheon and Lee Juneseo in the semi-finals of the men's 1000 metres on Monday night.

Immediately after the semi-finals, the Koreans filed a protest with the referee asking for the reason why Hwang and Lee were DQ'd. The complaint was then filed to the ISU.

“The decision on the field of play will not be altered according to the sport’s rules,” said Choi Yong Koo, support team leader for South Korea.

“We are very clear on that, but are instead asking that such unfair penalties will be prevented from happening again.

Choi noted that in the video replay of the 1000m A final, Ren Ziwei of China appeared to have his hands on the leg of Liu Shaolin Sandor of Hungary, who crossed the finish line first, fell and spun into the pads.

This photo shows Ren Ziwei tangling with Liu Shaolin Sandor in the 100m speed skating final.
Ren Ziwei tangled with Liu Shaolin Sandor in the 100m speed skating final at the Winter Olympics. Image: Getty

However Liu was penalised twice and earned a yellow card, while Ren got off scot-free and was elevated to the gold medal.

“We can’t understand why the Hungarian athlete got a penalty,” Choi said.

"The ISU has been refining the judgment system every year, but the right to make the final decision goes to the chief referee.

"We have to rely on his fair judgement.”

South Korea coach Lee So Hee added: "As you can see in the video replay, our athletes didn’t touch other athletes but still got many penalties.”

China hits back after sinister accusations

A newspaper in Seoul also reportedly published an article with the headline: “Just let China take all the medals", with many viewers left fuming by the controversy.

The outcry has led to an angry response from the Chinese embassy, which accused South Korea of propagating negative sentiment against the host nation.

“We can’t help expressing grave concern and proclaim a strict position,” an embassy spokesperson said in a statement.

China added that the speed skating disqualifications were "technical" issues that should be looked at by relevant sporting bodies, rather than debated online.

“Some South Korean media and politicians have criticised the Chinese government and Beijing Olympics as a whole, even instigating anti-Chinese sentiment, worsening the public sentiment of the two countries and drawing a backlash from Chinese online users,” the statement read.

South Korea is a hotbed for short track speed-skating and its fans are passionate about the sport.

South Korea's Chef de Mission Yoon Hong Geun said fans have reached out to the Korean Olympic Committee and on social media urging the team to return home in protest of the controversy.

“We had so many phone calls coming in that we couldn’t sleep,” Yoon said.

"But for the sake of all the efforts made by our athletes and related staff to come to Beijing, and because we have many races left in the remaining days, we decide to stay and finish the Games.

"Meanwhile, we will do whatever we can to protest against the penalties.”

with agencies

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.