[EDITORIALS]Lessons from sports diplomacy

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[EDITORIALS]Lessons from sports diplomacy

International Olympic Commi-ttee Vice President Kim Un-yong, the “emperor of the sports world,” who had great influence on both national and international levels, was “provisionally deprived of his rights” pending an investigation into a bribery and embezzlement scandal. We cannot hide our dismay and shame at this unprecedented measure taken by the committee.
Mr. Kim had played a major role in lifting Korea’s stature in the international sports world, including getting taekwondo, the national martial art, chosen as an official sport for the Olympic Games. It is a terrible thing to see Mr. Kim crash in such disgrace.
The investigation is still pending, and Mr. Kim is innocent until proven guilty. However, it cannot be denied that the IOC vice president had invited much criticism during his run, both internationally and nationally, where he had been seen as the sole diplomatic leader for Korea in the international sports scene.
Korea should take notes from Mr. Kim’s fall and use those lessons to form a new diplomatic framework where international sports are concerned.
Unlike the 1980s, when Mr. Kim was most active, it is not currently possible to influence people and win their friendship by money alone. This new era of change and reform challenges a country to compete by pure ability.
We must adjust accordingly to the current times and develop our human resources in the sports world with a long-term perspective. We believe that transforming the main framework of sports policies from “elite sports” to everyday sports will provide the foundation for such changes.
Athletes should be allowed to grow as future sports leaders with all-around competence, not just in their particular sports.
Elitism in sports might heighten the athletes’ capacities, but it is a dissipating system that ends once the athletes retire.
At the same time, the government should not hesitate to support the athletes in various groups who participate actively in international competitions. International connections are not made in one day. We must advance further on the international stage by creating relations steadily through international sports leagues.
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