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KOC’s unfair selection of national sports heroes

Posted September. 26, 2015 07:46,   


Kim Yu-na ranked first by an overwhelming margin in an online poll to single out sports heroes for 2015 conducted by the Korea Olympic Committee, but was eliminated in the final selection process. Instead, the pollsters singled out Kim Un-yong (84), former vice chairman of the International Olympic Committee; Yang Jung-mo (62), an Olympic gold medalist in wrestling; and Park Shin-ja (74), a former national basketball team player as this year’s sports heroes. The Korea Olympic Committee invited ‘people to pick in person ‘sports heroes of choice without considering the age requirement’ of 50 or older among sports stars, a restriction that was in place until last year, but it effectively cheated the public after all.

KOC claims that Kim Yu-na was eliminated from the sports heroes not because she is not old enough, but the weight of online poll in the selection review was only 10 percent. Then, it claims that the selection of sports heroes is meant to recognize veteran sports stars who devoted their life to the development of Korean sports and use them as role models for younger athletes. If this was the case, the committee should not have caused unnecessary misunderstanding by lifting the age restriction of 50 or older among sports stars, or should have requested people to select potential winners of the ‘life-time achievement awards’ in the first place.

Kim Un-yong, former IOC vice chairman, was not an athlete, but made important contributions to sports diplomacy, including Korea’s successful bid to host the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, and the adoption of Korean martial art Taekwondo as an official sport in the Olympics. However, even if he made contributions at one point in his life, it was not easy to continue the rest of his life without damaging the contributions. Kim was sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of 780 million won (653,000 US dollars) by the Supreme Court in 2005 for embezzling public fund from the World Taekwondo Federation. It is questionable whether he can be a role model for others. In the international community, there is mounting criticism against those embroiled in corruptions among IOC and FIFA members.

KOC ended up with not only failing in communications with youth but also repeating its ill-advised practice of the past. Effectively resorting to age limit anew after pledging to discard the age requirement is effectively no different from changing the rules of a sport during a game. When it comes to sports, a hero should be a figure who most people can respect and agree to honor. Kim Jung-haeng, incumbent KOC chairman, is considered a figure who was under direct influence of Kim Un-yong, who also served as KOC chairman. The selection cannot be considered fair and equitable from whatever perspective it is viewed.