Don’t forget to cheer on the South Korean golfers at the Olympics

If you’re keen to cheer on some other golfers as well as the Australians at this week’s Olympic Golf event, this perhaps the South Korean pair may be a good choice.

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Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport reported on the only way Si Woo Kim and Sungjae Im can avoid 18 months of military service; by winning an Olympic medal.

It’s an experience all South Korean men go through—unless you’re one of a very, very select few. The South Korean government considers a very narrow set of accomplishments sufficient to “enhance national prestige” and thus exempt a citizen from military service. The first exemptions were introduced in 1973 by president Park Chung-hee, who promised an exemption to any athlete who medaled in the 1976 Olympic ​G​ames. Shortly thereafter, the criteria expanded to include a gold medal at the Asian Games, also held every four years. At present, those remain the only two avenues for an athlete to exempt himself from military service.

Jon Rahm expressed disbelief when he heard about the scenario for the Koreans suggesting he is open to bribes if he and Kim or Im are fighting for third place.

“Seriously?” he asked when a reporter mentioned Im’s need for an Olympic medal to avoid military service.

Rahm then joked, “Well, I would say if we’re fighting for fourth and third place, I’m open for bribing if he needs me to make a three-putt on the last hole. We can always talk about it. I like Korean food. We can always talk about it.”

Of course, Rahm isn’t even in Japan now after somehow testing positive for COVID a second time.

Rahm said he went back on Sunday and took a saliva test, an antibody test and a PCR test. The saliva and PCR tests came back negative, and it was confirmed he had the COVID-19 antibodies.

By then, he said, he could not have received three straight negative results and arrived in Tokyo in time to play at Kasumigaseki Country Club, where he would have been the betting favourite.

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