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  • Top Story Replay -- New Sports Leaders from PyeongChang Olympics


    This story was originally published on Aug. 17, 2011.

    (ATR) Later this month the IOC and the team from PyeongChang meet formally for the first time since South Korea won the bid for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

    The small conclave at Alpensia resort, center of the 2018 Games plan, will include about a half-dozen delegates from the IOC and a retinue of representatives on behalf of the still-to-be-formed organizing committee.
    Bid chair Yang Ho Cho. (ATR)

    We know the names already of the key players for the IOC: Gunilla Lindberg, Gilbert Felli, Christoph Dubi and the rest of their team in Lausanne is familiar.

    But now is the time for the new Olympic hosts to fill in the blanks on their side.

    For the moment at least, bid chairman Yang Ho Cho leads the way on the organizing committee side. He is the man who forged strong ties to IOC members in the past two years of campaigning. His leadership and knowledge is an important link in the continuity on the road to 2018 and it would be no surprise to see him remain at the helm.

    Look for the formal organization of the 2018 Olympics to take shape in the coming weeks. The IOC asks that an OCOG form within six months of winning the bid, and nearly two months have elapsed since then. When Lindberg, the newly-named chair of the IOC Coordination Commission, meets with Cho and his colleagues, she and her IOC compatriots will look for assurances that the OCOG is coming together.

    Once the organizing committee is created, the next puzzle for PyeongChang is choosing the team who will work on this project for the next seven years. A CEO or COO to command the day-to-day work of the committee will be needed. A sports director will be an early appointment. Communications, technology, finance, marketing and NOC relations are other portfolios that will need leadership soon.

    Those chosen must have the ability to deal not only with their Korean colleagues, but also their international clients: sports federations, NOCs, the IOC, sponsors and media.

    Some of those could well come from the ranks of the bid committee which provided important exposure to people like sports director Kwang Bae Kang, already a vice president with the international bobsleigh federation; communications director Theresa Rah; press chief Muchol Shin and IOC member Dae Sung Moon. Figure skating star Yu Na Kim, who will be 28 in seven years, could find a role to play with the OCOG or Korean Olympic team when she hangs up the skates. The 2018 Olympics
    PyeongChang communications director Theresa Rah. (ATR)
    could well be a springboard for a new generation of Korean sports leaders, much in the same way as the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

    The government’s role in the 2018 Winter Games is crucial and must be handled carefully given the sizeable commitments made by the national government to provide Games-related infrastructure. In the case of other recent Games, a coordinating public agency has been created to supervise these projects, working closely with the organizing committee to make sure the Olympic fit is perfect.

    Whether a central ministry is needed to handle the variety of issues facing the government for the Olympics must be decided. For now, Minister for Culture, Youth and Sport Byoung Gug Choung, another young leader, is in a prime position to get the Games off to a good start
    Sports director Kwang Bae Kang. (ATR)
    from the government side.

    It will be interesting to see how the relationship develops between the national government and the Gangwon provincial government. Both are led by opposing political parties, and the reality of hosting the Winter Olympics may test the cross party cooperation that existed during the bid. In any case, the views of the province where the Olympics will be held must be considered even if the national government is in the driver’s seat.

    Continuity of leadership also will make the path to 2018 smoother. From the CEO down, key staff for the OCOG must be ready to make the commitment to work on the Games project through 2018. Given the way political fortunes change, continuity may be a challenge at either the provincial or ministerial level. That’s why the formation of a non-partisan, independent agency to oversee the Olympics may help avoid interruptions when there’s a change in government.

    Finally, those who have followed the Olympic movement for some time know that sports leaders in Korea have been snared in legal issues that have cost them dearly. Un Yong Kim, once one of the most influential members of the IOC, suffered a stunning fall from grace after being convicted of misusing money meant for sport. He resigned from the IOC instead of facing an expulsion vote in 2005. Attention to ethics in the business of the 2018 Olympics will be as important to the future of sport in Korea as cultivating a new generation sports leaders who will emerge in the next seven years.

    Written by Ed Hula.

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