By Andrew Warshaw at Wembley Stadium in London 

Park Jong-woo_holds_up_bannerAugust 11 - A diplomatic row involving South Korea and Japan marred the latter stages of an otherwise high-quality and unpredictable men's football competition at London 2012.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) requested that one of South Korea's players be prevented from receiving his bronze medal for holding up a political message in the aftermath of the 2-0 semi-final win over Japan in Cardiff on Friday.

The slogan was said to refer to a long-running dispute about islands to which both South Korea and Japan lay claim.

The bronze medal game came hours after South Korea's President visited the islands, known as Dokdo in South Korea and as Takeshima in Japan, sparking a row.

The move prompted Japan to recall its ambassador in Seoul.

South Korean_London_2012_footballers_August_11Park Jong-woo is absent from the podium when his South Korean team mates receive their London 2012 bronze medals at Wembley Stadium 

The IOC said that after the bronze medal match a South Korean player was photographed brandishing a sign allegedly asserting South Korea's sovereignty over the islands.

"We have opened an inquiry and have asked the NOC (National Olympic Committee) of the Republic of Korea for an explanation," the IOC said in a statement.

The Korean Olympic Committee were requested to take "swift action on this issue" and as a result, the player involved was absent from the medal ceremony, which took place today at Wembley Stadium after the Mexico-Brazil final.

A Korean Football Association (KFA) official later named the player as 23-year-old midfielder Park Jong-woo, whose name was not read out by the public address system either.

Park Jong-wo_August_11Park Jong-woo (centre) takes a free kick against Uzbekistan in a 2011 U-23 friendly match 

FIFA said it had opened a separate investigation into the incident since their statutes and those of the IOC prohibit political statements by athletes and players.

Agency reports said the slogan was shown long after the Korea-Japan game – during which seven yellow cards were issued – had finished.

Photographs swiftly spread on Twitter after being published by a Korean news agency.

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