[Viewpoint] Let him work for hosting Olympics
“We have gotten the reinforcements of a thousand soldiers and ten thousand horses.”
The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games Bid Committee must be relieved after former Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, a member of the International Olympic Committee, was pardoned.
Not just the committee but also Gangwon Province, sports circles and many citizens who dream of hosting the Winter Olympic Games must share the same feeling.
As a leader of the sports industry in Korea, I extend my gratitude to the government for making the critical decision to grant a special pardon.
As the government’s announcement stated, Lee’s pardon provides a condition to reinstate his currently suspended IOC membership and creates a better chance to host the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. It was a decision for the national interest in an effort to pursue the great undertaking of the nation to bring an international sports festival to Korea.
Making a third bid to host the Winter Olympics, Pyeongchang is waging a hard fight against strong competitors such as Munich, Germany, and Annecy, France.
Munich is a well-known cultural city, and Annecy is an international city with a well-established infrastructure that is located just 20 minutes from Geneva. Germany has three IOC members and France has two.
In particular, German IOC member Thomas Bach is quite influential and is often mentioned as the next IOC chairman.
Since the hosting of the Olympic Games is decided by the vote of the IOC members, it is very important to persuade them. Of course, the Olympic host is determined based on subjective assessments, such as the facilities and the environment necessary to hold the Games.
However, what affects the outcome more than the visible elements is to move the hearts of the IOC members. And only the IOC members can play such a role effectively.
As the rules of conduct for the International Olympic Committee have been reinforced, it became increasingly difficult to make contact with the IOC members. Therefore, the IOC members themselves are crucial to communicating with fellow members.
Currently, Korea only has one member, Moon Dae-seong, on the committee aside from Lee, who voluntarily suspended his duties. Moon is an athlete member elected at the Beijing Olympics last year with not much experience in the IOC scene.
As Korea makes an all-out effort to host the Games, we desperately need the contribution of Lee, who has been a veteran IOC member with significant influence within the committee, and Samsung, which has been one of the top Olympic sponsors since 1996.
As the chairman of the National Olympic Committee, I have met with many IOC members, and a large number of them, including executives of the committee, said that Lee Kun-hee’s pardon would have a positive impact on Korea’s sports diplomacy as well as the development of the international sports scene since he has made critical contributions to sports.
Lee is an indispensable figure not only for the hosting of the Pyeongchang Winter Games but also for the reconsideration of the international status of Korean sports and the development of global sports.
Of course, reinstatement of Lee’s IOC membership will not directly lead to a successful bid for Pyeongchang.
However, his involvement improves the chances considerably.
Lee is expected to actively participate in the IOC assembly to be held in Vancouver, Canada, next month, and Pyeongchang’s bid for the Winter Olympic Games will be considerably boosted.
We have only a year and half until the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games is decided at a IOC session in Durban, South Africa, in July 2011.
Now that Lee has been pardoned and reinstated, the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games Bid Committee, the Korea Olympic Committee and two IOC members, Lee Kun-hee and Moon Dae-seong, can promote a systematic and effective campaign to successfully host the international sports festivity as the government and its citizens fully support the bid.
*The writer is the chairman of the Korean Olympic Committee.
Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Park Yong-sung