Former Samsung chairman returns to IOCFormer Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee has regained his membership of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), officials said Monday, a move expected to help South Korea's efforts to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The IOC made the decision in a committee meeting in Vancouver, where the Winter Olympics is scheduled to kick off on Friday.
Lee voluntarily gave up his rights and duties as an IOC member following his conviction for tax evasion in 2008. He was sentenced in last August to a three-year suspended prison term
and a fine of 110 billion won (US$89.2 million) for illegal bond transactions that caused financial losses to a Samsung affiliate.
Last December, the South Korean government pardoned Lee, enabling him to play a role in helping South Korea's alpine city of PyeongChang bid for the right to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Lee's reinstatement is expected to be a boost for South Korea's latest campaign. The country is bidding for the Winter Olympics for the third consecutive times after it lost to
Vancouver, Canada, and Sochi, Russia, in its two previous attempts.
PyeongChang is competing against France's Annecy and Germany's Munich for the 2018 Games.
The IOC will select the host city in December 2011.
With Lee's return to the IOC as a full member, South Korea now has two IOC executive members, including taekwondo Olympic gold medalist Moon Dae-sung.
Lee, now staying in Seoul, will visit Vancouver to attend the IOC general assembly that starts on Thursday. This will be his first IOC general assembly since he participated in the last
IOC meeting in 2007 when PyeongChang lost the rights to host the 2014 Winter Games to the Russian city.
The 67-year-old tycoon stepped down as head of South Korea's largest business conglomerate in April 2008, which he had chaired for 20 years. [Yonhap]
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