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  • On the Scene: POCOG President Says Games Open to All


    (ATR) PyeongChang 2018 President Hee Beom Lee tells Around the Rings he believes Russian athletes will be participating in the next Winter Olympics.

    "Of course" he responded to a question during a one year to go press conference in Gangneung, the coastal city where all the arena events for the Winter Games will be held. 

    Hee Beom Lee kicks off one year until PyeongChang speaking to the press (ATR)
    Lee said  that he expects the upcoming Games to serve as a “the perfect Olympic Games where we don’t see any doping scandals.”

    IOC officials are currently reviewing the findings from the second McLaren report, which detailed a state-run doping system from Russian authorities. According to WADA investugator Richard McLaren, the system corrupted doping results at the Sochi Olympics, as well as other events. Two IOC commissions are at work which could deliver more sanctions for Russia, although the findings may not come until months ahead of PyeongChang 2018.

    The first McLaren report was released weeks before the Rio 2016 Games. After its release the IOC decided that each summer sport federation would determine eligibility of Russian athletes based on established criteria. Nearly a third of the Russian Rio 2016 team was barred from competing.

    “[PyeongChang 2018’s] policy is to have clean athletes, and Russia has had various responsive measures,” Lee said. “I believe that Russia will exert examples to make the Olympics clean, so these collaborations will work well.”

    Another delegation facing scrutiny over participation ahead of the Games is the one from North Korea. Lee emphasized that all athletes were welcome to take part in the Games so as long as they encourage the values that the PyeongChang Games represent. North Korea boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

    “The Olympics were started as a symbol of peace,” Lee said to reporters. “The PyeongChang 2018 Games will of course let any country and athlete in to participate as long as they promote peace. North Korea is not an exception.”

    Full Government Support Continues

    The time has passed for the possibility of the ongoing national political crisis to affect the PyeongChang 2018 Games  according to Hee Beom Lee.

    Lee posing with the PyeongChang 2018 torch kicking off one year to go (ATR)
    Lee tells ATR that during the onset of the South Korean influence peddling scandal some disruption was to be expected. The scandal is centered around impeached President Park Geun Hye and her confidant Soon Sil Choi. The scandal has grown to include former Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism Yoon Sun Cho, as well as executives from Samsung.

    Now the interim government has declared full support for the Games and is ensuring there will be no hiccups during the final year of preparations.

    Two resolutions were passed by the Korean National Assembly last November encouraging full governmental support for the Games as well as encouraging public companies to pledge support for PyeongChang. Lee says these resolutions were passed unanimously from all political parties.

    Sponsorship contracts, which had tied PyeongChang 2018 to the influence peddling scandals were reviewed, Lee said. Upon review, the new contracts have met PyeongChang 2018's revenue goal, and new contracts are continuing to be signed.

    “I do admit that there was some negative impact to a certain extent,” Lee said. “After I took over as [POCOG] President all Olympic contracts were reviewed by me and the Olympic administration, and those contracts did not get any negative impact form the political situation.

    “The acting President of Korea is visiting here and all the government bodies are rendering full support. I believe that the political situation with not greatly impact the PyeongChang Olympic Games and we’ll be able to overcome that.”

    Written by Aaron Bauer in Gangneung

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