(ATR) The Korean Olympic Committee and the national government have apparently made peace over a controversial merger.
Around the Rings is told that late night meetings this week between the ministry of sport and KOC leaders has produced agreement on terms of the merger with the Korean Sports Council. The merger has been talked about for years but political issues always got in the way of moving forward. Nonetheless steps have been taken in the past few years to merge functions of the two groups but have fallen short of a total merger.
The government-funded KSC is responsible for promoting elite sport in Korea while the KOC handles Olympic related matters. An official with the sports department of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport says the merger of the two groups would be similar to what happened 10 years ago with the formation of the DOSB in Germany, when two separate organizations were merged.
The KOC has been worried about the new bylaws proposed for the merged organization by the ministry. Some of the proposals appeared to give the government control over the NOC, possibly in conflict with the Olympic Charter. Among them was a provision giving the government the power to select the KOC president. Another gave the government power of review for the KOC budget and marketing programs.
ATR is told that intervention at the highest levels of the Korean government led to changes in the proposed bylaws that avoid conflict with the Olympic Charter, although not entirely says one source. There are said to be nearly two dozen remaining instances that could be an issue.
With the 2018 Winter Olympics coming to PyeongChang, the KOC as well as the government want to avoid the possibility of IOC suspension due to breaches of autonomy required in the Olympic Charter. It’s happened occasionally with other NOCs. Kuwait NOC is currently under suspension over autonomy battles with the national government and will lose its place at the Rio 2016 Olympics unless the IOC lifts its sanction.
March 27 is the date set for the meeting in Seoul where the proposed merger is supposed to be consummated.
The KOC had expressed concern that the new bylaws first needed to be reviewed by the IOC before adoption by the Korean organizations. The government now says it will agree to submitting the changes to the IOC ahead of the March meeting.
The possibility remains that the IOC could reject some of the new bylaws which could leave the Koreans in an awkward position. Whether the IOC can give its approval to the changes prior to the March 27 meeting is another variable.
In reporting the end of the impasse between the government and the KOC, one newspaper in Seoul quoted an IOC expert who dismisses the need for prior approval from Lausanne. That would be the opinion of Un Yong Kim, the former IOC vice president and power-broker who went to jail for financial crimes involving money meant for sport. In 2005 Kim resigned his IOC seat to avoid a vote on his expulsion.
Written by Ed Hula.