Park Yong-sung has surprisingly decided not to seek a second term as President of the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC), claiming that he had managed everything he had set out to achieve.
The announcement that the 72-year-old will step down following the election on February 22 after serving his four-year term came less than a week after he had hosted International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge during his visit to South Korea when he travelled Pyeongchang for the first time.
Park has also been a member of the IOC and is a former chairman of the International Judo Federation (IJF).
“I have been the head of our National Olympic Committee, the chairman of the IJF, and a member of the IOC,” Park said. “For a sports administrator, there can be no greater glory.”
Under Park, South Korea achieved their best-ever Olympic performances, in both the Winter and Summer Games, finishing sixth overall at Vancouver 2010 with 14 medals, including six gold, and fifth at London 2012, winning 28 medals, 13 of which were gold.
Also at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, South Korea placed second with 76 gold medals.
Park had played a key role in helping Pyeongchang win the bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, the first time they will have been staged in South Korea.
A few months after becoming the KOC chairman in 2009, Park integrated two separate sports bodies, the Korea Sports Council (KSC) and the KOC, into the present organization which has helped turn South Korea into one of the world’s most powerful sports nations.
He also opened the second national training facility for Olympic athletes in Jincheon, North Chungcheong, 90 kilometers south of Seoul, in 2011, which last week Rogge described as one of the best he has ever seen.
“From now on, I will try to help South Korean sports from the sidelines,” Park said. “If an opportunity arises, I will be more than willing to offer my helping hands, using the international network I’ve built over the past three decades.”
Park, who is also the chairman of Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, decided not to pursue a second term partly because of fears over his health, the Yonhap news agency in Seoul reported.
Park reportedly had to visit hospital last week after being taken ill while accompanying Rogge on his visit to Pyeongchang and needed minor surgery to repair a damaged nasal bone which had caused severe bleeding.
There are set to be three candidates battling to replace Park, including Kim Jung-haeng, head of the Korea Judo Association (KJA) and one of three vice-chairmen of the KOC, who is expected to officially declare his candidature tomorrow.
He is a close ally of Park’s, having replaced him as chairman of the KJA in 1995.
Lee Elisa, the 1973 world table tennis champion and coach to the country’s successful national team, will become the KOC’s first female President if she is elected.
The 58-year-old is now a politician with South Korea’s ruling Saenuri Party and claimed she has been inspired to stand by the recent election of Park Geun-hye as the country’s first female President.
“Electing a woman as the President [of South Korea] means that we are living in a different era,” said Lee. “That’s why I mustered the courage [to run for KOC President].”
The other candidate who has declared is Park Sang-ha, chairman of the International Soft Tennis Federation.
He lost to Park Yong-sun in the 2009 KOC election.
Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com Inside the Games is a blog of the London Organizing Committee that helped put on the recent Summer Olympics. This article is reprinted here with permission of the authors of the blog.