South Korea’s top sports body decided on Thursday to begin the process for naming a candidate for International Olympic Committee membership.
At its board of directors meeting, the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee discussed the need for South Korea to have a full IOC member, especially with the country preparing to host the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next February.
|Lee Kee-heung (center), head of the KSOC, presides over the board of directors meeting in Seoul on June 8, 2017. (Korean Sport & Olympic Committee)|
Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee has been an IOC member since 1996. But he has been hospitalized since May 2014 and remains unable to function in any IOC capacity.
Former Olympic table tennis gold medalist Ryu Seung-min is the only active IOC member from South Korea, as he was elected to the IOC’s Athletes Commission last year. Members of the commission enjoy the same rights as other IOC members, but they serve one eight-year term. IOC members are also elected for eight years and their mandates can be renewed.
During the meeting, KSOC officials sought to nominate their chief, Lee Kee-heung, as the IOC candidate.
Lee, in turn, said it was premature to decide on the candidate without first consulting with former IOC members from South Korea and conducting careful reviews of all potential candidates. The KSOC’s board then agreed to give Lee the final say on who from South Korea will run for an IOC seat.
New IOC members will be elected during the IOC Session in Lima, Peru, in September. There are currently 95 members from 67 nations.
IOC candidates may be one of the following: an individual member, an active athlete, a representative of an international sports federation, or a representative from his or her national Olympic body.
South Korea will seek to have a candidate linked to his or her function within the KSOC.
Cho Yang-ho, former head of PyeongChang 2018’s organizing committee, had been previously regarded as a viable candidate. Cho, chairman of Hanjin Group, is the president of the Korea Table Tennis Association and previously served as a vice president of the Korean Olympic Committee, a previous incarnation of the KSOC.
Lee Kee-heung is also a veteran sports administrator. He has led the South Korean governing bodies for canoe and swimming, and was the chef de mission for the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games and the 2012 London Olympics. (Yonhap)