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Son Heung-min to start basic military training Updated: 2020-04-10 17:13:08 KST

Turning to sports now, our Sports editor Paul Neat is back in the studio. Paul, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the vast majority of sports leagues around the world to a halt but, in doing so, it has given one of Korea's most famous athletes, Son Heung-min, the opportunity to complete his military training. What can you tell us about that?

That's right, Son Heung-min has returned to Korea for the second time in the space of around a month. He had originally returned to receive treatment on a fractured arm before heading back to London. After self-isolating, he rejoined first team training with Spurs but has returned to Korea again. Whilst the EPL is suspended due to COVID-19, he has decided to complete his basic military training.

There seems to be some confusion about this because Son earned military exemption after winning a gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games.

Indeed. As you know, all able-bodied males must complete roughly two years of mandatory military service but athletes can earn exemption by winning Asian Games gold or any Olympic medal. But, even with exemption, athletes are required to complete basic military training. So, Son will be heading to Jeju Island to join a Marine Corps camp and serve three weeks rather than four. He also has to complete 544 hours of community service over the next 34 months.

Actually, Sky Sports in the United Kingdom have nominated him as being Tottenham's MVP for this season. He has the most assists, most chances created and most dribbles for Spurs. He has also scored 16 goals, one less than top scorer Harry Kane.

I understand that there has been some news regarding the 2021 Olympics?

Yes, there were doubts concerning some of the players born in 1997 and whether they would be able to compete next year due to age restrictions. But, FIFA have confirmed that players who were eligible this year, will be able to play next year. This means that there are more players who can try and earn military exemption of their own, including some of the K League's brightest young stars.

Before you go, Paul. Speaking of K League, is there an update on what is happening with the new season?

K League have held a few meetings recently with representatives of all 22 teams from both divisions. The idea of a shortened season of around 27 games, rather than 38, in the top flight, has been initially agreed upon.

K League have said that if the number of new COVID-19 cases stays below 40 for two weeks then the season can start. In the meantime, K League will be streaming some classic matches via their official YouTube and Twitter account starting this Saturday at 2pm so that fans can re-live some special matches. The first game will be the 2008 K League Final second leg, Suwon Samsung Bluewings versus FC Seoul.
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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