중앙데일리

[OUTLOOK]Stop the Olympic scapegoating

July 18,2003
“Now Pyeongchang is definitely different from what it had been before the voting. It has made its mark on the world map,” said Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee. The New York Times described Pyeongchang’s ascent as an amazing feat. This newspaper quoted an Australian member of the Olympic Committee as saying, “Vancouver deserved to win this time. But Pyeongchang did really well, and that was a surprise.” How did Pyeongchang get such evaluations, then? Although it was not superior to Vancouver, it had higher marks from the evaluation committee, it captured the hearts of many IOC members with its remarkable presentation, and it played on the regional factor of being an Asian city to woo the Winter Olympic Games that had been concentrated in North America and Europe.
It is true. Pyeongchang’s surge was a surprising event. We had not expected it and neither had the world. But instead of praising this amazing feat, we seem to be in a wave of anger here. The resentment that we could have won with just three more votes had it not been for the hindrance of a man named Kim Un-yong seem to have taken over the country. Even more, Mr. Kim is accused of not engaging in active lobbying for Pyeongchang because the victory of a Korean city would have compromised his chances of being elected vice-president.
If this is true, this should also mean that the IOC members probably had been lobbied into giving all those votes to Pyeongchang and the New York Times or anyone else that praised Pyeongchang was wrong. What a bigger insult could we be heaping on the IOC members? Putting aside the fruitful results we garnered by our strenuous efforts to prepare, we are talking as if we were robbed of the right because we didn’t lobby well. Why don’t we Koreans realize that this is practically announcing to the whole world that we are a country where lobbying wins. It’s like cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. And we don’t even know we’re doing it.
When allegations surfaced of his involvement in the bribery scandal involving the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics three years ago, Mr. Kim received a “most serious warning” from the International Olympic Committee. He is also a short-fused man who threatened to investigate the Korean Olympic Committee and the bidding committee for Pyeongchang when pressed on this affair. Despite his many faults, however, Mr. Kim should not be blamed alone for Pyeongchang’s loss. That would be just another form of populism.
The public’s anger might be vented by blaming a particular person for the failures and mistakes instead of trying to fix them through the system. Nevertheless, with all the satisfaction of frustrations, that still wouldn’t solve the problems. It’s the same in politics or the economy. We could make Mr. Kim the scapegoat this time but that wouldn’t raise our chances of winning the next time. Wouldn’t it be better to think of things that should be supplemented or changed so that we can do even better next time?
The allegations against Mr. Kim are merely groundless rumors of “so-and-so said this or that.” This is a matter of Mr. Kim’s personal conscience and ethics and it is not something that can be solved by the government stepping in officially. If Mr. Kim is blameless, what bigger injustice to him could there be? This is a flagrant violation of human rights and defamation of character. It is also not dignified that the entire country should be buzzing with a story that has no substance.
What is even more incomprehensible is the logic that Mr. Kim should be left alone because he is indispensable for our chances of bidding for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. This logic is based on the assumption that Mr. Kim’s lobbying powers are so great that we couldn’t possible win without his help. With one hand we are throwing stones at him and with the other we are trying to use him. Is this schizophrenia or something else?
If Mr. Kim had indeed betrayed his country for his personal interests, then he must pay the consequences. What proper country would say, “This man is irreplaceable so we must use him again?” I quote a Japanese writer, Nanami Shiono, here. “The talented are not born in a country that fears that they would not be born at the right time. On the contrary, they are born in a country that can afford to discard such fears and hand down decisions with a set purpose.” If there is evidence beyond doubt that Mr. Kim had indeed betrayed the chances of Pyeongchang, he should be denounced. If there is no such evidence, let this thing pass quietly and let Mr. Kim live with his own conscience. Even if the whole country should throw stones at Mr. Kim, I will not.
I will merely wait quietly for a more capable new face to come and replace him.

* The writer is chief editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.


by Moon Chang-keuk


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