IOC and Taekwondo reject whistleblower corruption claims

The International Boxing Association says it welcomes the scrutiny as they seek to get back in good standing with the IOC

Olympics - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics - Torch Relay - Beijing, China - February 3, 2022. Wu Jingyu, Chinese Taekwondo Olympics medalist poses holding the Olympic torch before taking part in the Torch Relay at the Badaling section of the Great Wall in Yanqing district. REUTERS/Yew Lun Tian
Olympics - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics - Torch Relay - Beijing, China - February 3, 2022. Wu Jingyu, Chinese Taekwondo Olympics medalist poses holding the Olympic torch before taking part in the Torch Relay at the Badaling section of the Great Wall in Yanqing district. REUTERS/Yew Lun Tian

Explosive charges that bribery of International Olympic Committee (IOC) members and sports officials was used to win a spot for taekwondo in the Olympics are being dismissed by the IOC as well as World Taekwondo.

The IOC in particular rejects the accusations of former boxing federation executive director Ho Kim, noting in a statement that he was “for many years a persona non grata at the IOC.”

Kim was dismissed from his post at AIBA, as it was known at the time, after nine years at the federation headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

This week Kim, in a series of reports by the Times of London reporter Matt Lawton, Kim laid bare his account of judging manipulations and bribes paid to fix matches at the London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.

FILE PHOTO: 2016 Rio Olympics - Boxing - Final - Men's Super Heavy (+91kg) Final Bout 273 - Riocentro - Pavilion 6 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 21/08/2016. Tony Yoka (FRA) of France and Joseph Joyce (GBR) of Britain compete. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS./File Photo
FILE PHOTO: 2016 Rio Olympics - Boxing - Final - Men's Super Heavy (+91kg) Final Bout 273 - Riocentro - Pavilion 6 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 21/08/2016. Tony Yoka (FRA) of France and Joseph Joyce (GBR) of Britain compete. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS./File Photo

In the articles Kim says he was offered $350,000 to fix the outcomes of Olympic boxing bouts for two nations. And he says in 2011 he discovered a $20,000 pile of cash in a gift book from Mongolia at the 2011 World Championships. Mongolian officials are reported denying any knowledge of such bribery. Kim has a photo of the stack of cash he says was tucked into the book.

The articles come amidst a do-or-die moment for the International Boxing Association (IBA), the new name for the former AIBA. Elections for the leadership of the federation are set for this weekend in Yerevan, Armenia.

For a range of transgressions as well as troubled leadership across decades of Olympic boxing, the sport is not on the program for LA28. In Paris, the IOC, not the IBA, will control the qualification and staging of the sport. IBA leaders will not be accredited for the Games, as was the case in Tokyo.

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to the International Boxing Assosiation (AIBA) President Umar Kremlev during the opening ceremony of the International Moscow Cup held within the framework of the World Boxing League at the newly opened International Boxing centre at the Luzhniki Sports Complex in Moscow, Russia September 10, 2022. Sputnik/Gavriil Grigorov/Pool via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to the International Boxing Assosiation (AIBA) President Umar Kremlev during the opening ceremony of the International Moscow Cup held within the framework of the World Boxing League at the newly opened International Boxing centre at the Luzhniki Sports Complex in Moscow, Russia September 10, 2022. Sputnik/Gavriil Grigorov/Pool via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Umar Kremlev is the incumbent president, officially never recognized by the IOC due to concerns over the background of the Russian sports leader. His opponent is Boris van der Vorst, a boxing leader in the Netherlands. Backed by the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, France and a number of other nations, van der Vorst is regarded by them as the only hope for the return of boxing to the Olympics.

The election for president is expected to be close. Countries in Africa, Asia and even the Americas, may lean toward Kremlev, despite the lead of the big nations such as the U.S.

The IBA says it supports any independent inquiry that helps insure integrity of the federation.

The IOC in its statement this week about Ho Kim suggested he had done little to identify the troubles he says he witnessed in boxing or taekwondo.

Olympic Rings are pictured in front of The Olympic House, headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the opening of the executive board meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in Lausanne, Switzerland September 8, 2022.Laurent Gillieron/Pool via REUTERS
Olympic Rings are pictured in front of The Olympic House, headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the opening of the executive board meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in Lausanne, Switzerland September 8, 2022.Laurent Gillieron/Pool via REUTERS

“Anybody who has good governance concerns with regard to IOC Members, is invited to contact the IOC Ethics Commission at any time directly or through the IOC Integrity and Compliance hotline. Any evidence can be provided through this mechanism. To date, no information has been provided by Mr. Ho Kim,” says the IOC statement.

“There are a lot of dirty stories hidden but what the IOC is doing to boxing right now, they also have to do something to clean their position also,” Kim is quoted by The Times.

So far, attempts to contact Ho Kim have not been successful.

Kim, 66, began his sports administration career 30+ years ago at the World Taekwondo Federation. As executive director he helped direct and implement the campaign that resulted in the IOC vote in 1994 that brought the Korean martial art onto the Olympic program.

In the initial report this week, The Times includes claims by Kim that cash, automobiles and prostitution were all used in sub rosa fashion to win the support of IOC members. Kim places the blame for the alleged corruption at the feet of the late Un Yong Kim, a once powerful IOC member from South Korea. The accusations may not be surprising given Kim’s fall from grace in 2003 for his arrest on charges of misusing funds as president of the taekwondo federation. The charges leveled by Ho Kim about the sport’s bid for Olympic recognition decades ago may be new. But in the eyes of the federation of today, World Taekwondo, the claims from Kim are without merit.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Taekwondo - Men's Heavyweight +80kg - Gold medal match - Makuhari Messe Hall A, Chiba, Japan - July 27, 2021. Vladislav Larin of the Russian Olympic Committee in action against Dejan Georgievski of North Macedonia REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo     SEARCH "OLYMPICS DAY 5" FOR TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS EDITOR'S CHOICE, SEARCH "REUTERS OLYMPICS TOPIX" FOR ALL EDITOR'S CHOICE PICTURES.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Taekwondo - Men's Heavyweight +80kg - Gold medal match - Makuhari Messe Hall A, Chiba, Japan - July 27, 2021. Vladislav Larin of the Russian Olympic Committee in action against Dejan Georgievski of North Macedonia REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo SEARCH "OLYMPICS DAY 5" FOR TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS EDITOR'S CHOICE, SEARCH "REUTERS OLYMPICS TOPIX" FOR ALL EDITOR'S CHOICE PICTURES.

“World Taekwondo has absolutely no knowledge about any of these allegations against the former administration of over 30 years ago,” says a statement to Around the Rings from the federation headquarters in South Korea.

“World Taekwondo urges that all evidence behind these allegations is shared with the World Taekwondo Integrity Committee so a proper investigation can be conducted. It would therefore not be appropriate to comment any further until the investigation has concluded.

“In the meantime, World Taekwondo continues to uphold the highest standards of good governance and integrity in the global administration of our sport,” says the statement.