Team Korea gets corporate helpTeam Korea has achieved impressive results at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Korea has a smaller population than the United States, Japan and major European countries and invests less in sports, but for over three decades, Korea has been in the top ten in the Olympics.
What is the driving force for Korea’s success? The biggest contributors are hard work of the athletes and passion of the coaching staff. Also, the hidden contributor is “commercialization.”
First, the athletes’ village for the national teams have professional trainers, nutritionists, rehab therapists and medical staff to help athletes improve their skills. They are the “front office” of companies in charge of production and sales. The “back office” includes the corporate sponsors. For winter sports, Lotte Group and Halla Group serve as heads of the ski and ice hockey associations, respectively, and sponsor more than 10 billion won ($9.3 million).
For summer Olympic sports, various companies head the associations for archery, handball, shooting and other sports to help build facilities and host international events. They also have teams or sponsor athletes for less popular sports such as wrestling, badminton and track. At the 2012 London Olympics, Korea finished fifth in the medal ranking, and most of the events where Korean athletes won medals have corporate sponsors.
At PyeongChang, Korea was a late comer in skeleton, but Yun Sung-bin won a gold medal with the support of a great coach and sponsors like CJ. Yet again, Team Korea’s outcome came through athletic excellence, the national training system and generous corporate backing.
Kwon Tae-shin, vice president of the Federation of Korean Industries