[Letters] Go beyond a sports power and be a sports leader

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[Letters] Go beyond a sports power and be a sports leader

Just like the economy, Korea’s sports have made surprisingly rapid growth. With 25th largest population in the world, Korea has finished in fifth place in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and 2012 London Olympics.

We have successfully hosted summer Olympics, a FIFA World Cup and World Championship in Athletics and will be hosting Winter Olympics in 2018. The triumphs in sports are all thanks to various sports organizations and athletes. Moreover, government-level policy to train professional elite athletes, most notably the National Sports Promotion Act, legislated in 1962, and the establishment of the Taereung National Training Camp in 1966, made great contributions.

Recently, Japan announced a plan to establish the Ministry of Sports to be exclusively in charge of sports. Since the 1980s, the Japanese government shifted the focus of the sports policy from elite professional sports to everyday and leisure sports, and as a result, the international competitiveness has weakened. After winning the bid to host London Olympic Games, the United Kingdom made extensive investments on elite sports. The U.K. was ranked at the third in the 2012 Olympics, keeping the pride as the host nation.

Sports policy that leans to a certain area cannot succeed. It is like a four-wheeled car supported by elite sports, everyday sports, school sports and professional sports. It is most desirable to reinforce school sports and naturally nurture elite and everyday sports, and based on their developments, professional sports would thrive.

The new administration should pursue to become a sports leader beyond a sports power. Sports are economic commodity with unlimited added values. Moreover, it is the best means for national integration and improved welfare. Sports also have great economic and diplomatic impacts. Well-directed sports policy can also bring solutions to school violence and sex crimes.

President-elect Park Geun-hye has made many visits to Taereung National Training Camp to motivate the athletes. Moreover, she has proposed policy promises for the athletes, including the Athletes Welfare Act. She seems to understand the significance and importance of sport policies. The sports industry expects the new administration to implement constructive and groundbreaking sports promotion policies.

by Choi Jong-jun Secretary general of the Korean Olympic Committee and a member of the IOC Sports for All Commission

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