| IOC vice-president Kim denies bartering Games for post
Seoul: Newly elected International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president Kim Un-yong denied Monday allegations that his appointment had been at the expense of his country’s failed bid to host the 2010 Winter Games.
Debate has raged in South Korea’s media and Parliament over whether Kim’s personal ambition was responsible for South Korea’s little-known ski resort of Pyeongchang narrowly losing the race to Canada’s Vancouver in a vote in Prague last Wednesday.
Opposition member Kim Yong-hak accused Kim Un-yong in Parliament of lending little support to Pyeongchang’s bid because of his private ambitions.
Kim Yong-hak said Kim Un-yong was aware of the IOC practice of “not giving all the gifts to one country” — a reference to the IOC being unlikely to award the Winter Games and a vice-president post to one country at one time.
Two days later, Kim, who served as vice-president under former leader Juan Antonio Samaranch but lost a bid for the top job two years ago, beat Norway’s Gerhard Heiberg in a secret ballot at the IOC session to secure one of four vice-president spots on the executive board.
“It’s profoundly regrettable that regarding the IOC’s decision (to choose Vancouver over Pyeongchang) and the election of an IOC vice-president, the blame lies with me, someone who has contributed all his life to the country through sports activities,” Kim said over telephone.
“It has been a practice to find a scapegoat when bids fail. I did my very best. If I had got more than half of the IOC votes, I would have become the president of the IOC two years ago,” the new IOC vice-president said.
“Let’s stop blaming each other. It’s time to make an all-out effort to win the next bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics Games.”
Pyeongchang, set in the mountainous province of Kangwon, two hours’ drive east from Seoul and a centre for winter sports in South Korea, is already planning a further bid. “We learned good lessons from our bid this time,” Pyeongchang bid committee chief Gong Ro-myung, a former foreign minister, said last week. “We will bid again in four years.”
The government had pledged $ 3.2 billion in public money to support the bid, most of it going into a new rail link to the capital Seoul.
South Korea has a good record of attracting international sporting events, holding last year’s Pusan Asian Games, the 2002 soccer World Cup — which it co-hosted with Japan — and the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics.
But the latest bid suffered from a lack of world recognition, given Pyeongchang barely registers outside Asia as a winter sports destination. Foreign commentators had at times confused the city with Pyongyang, the capital of its secretive communist neighbour North Korea.
For the new IOC vice-president, an IOC member since 1986, it has been a tough few years.
He was handed a “most serious warning” by the ad-hoc commission investigating the Salt Lake City bribery scandal in 1998 and 1999. The commission found a Salt Lake bid official had arranged to pay at least part of the salary of Kim’s son John when he worked for a US company.
Kim denied all knowledge of the arrangement and the commission said in a report it could not prove otherwise.