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S. Korean sports bodies agree on March 27 merger after meeting with IOC

All Headlines 09:59 March 05, 2016

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, March 5 (Yonhap) -- Two leading South Korean sports bodies have agreed to complete their merger by late March as scheduled following their meeting with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Switzerland on Friday, officials said.

Kim Jung-haeng, president of the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC), and Kang Young-joong, head of the Korea Council of Sport for All (KOCOSA), traveled to the IOC's headquarters in Lausanne earlier in the week to discuss the merger of their two organizations. Kim and Kang were joined by Kim Chong, vice minister of culture, tourism and sports.

Following what it called a "very positive and productive" meeting, the IOC released a statement, saying all parties concluded that the merger will "have a very positive impact" and that it is a "major and historic step" for the development of sports in South Korea.

"All parties therefore agreed on the principle of the merger and on the procedure and timeframe for the process, which is to be completed by 27 March 2016," the statement said. "In particular, it was agreed that the new statutes of the merged organization will be finalized with, and approved by, the IOC before they are adopted by the General Assembly of the merged organization."

To ensure efficient control of sports and break the wall between elite and everyday sports, the South Korean government has pushed the KOC, which oversees the country's sports in general and premier athletes for competitive events, and the KOCOSA, which aims to promote daily sports and a healthy lifestyle for every South Korean, to be a single entity. It has been tentatively named the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC).

Under a Korean law, the KOC and the KOCOSA had set a March 27 deadline for their merger. Then in a letter to the KOC dated Feb. 24, the IOC's Deputy Director General Pere Miro recommended that the merger be postponed until after the Rio de Janeiro Summer Games in August, so that the KOC can focus first on preparing South Korean athletes for the Olympics. Miro also invited the KOC and other parties involved to travel to Lausanne for a meeting with the IOC.

In Friday's statement, the IOC further noted that all parties will "work closely together with mutual understanding and in a constructive manner to reach this objective by the agreed deadline, for the benefit of the Olympic Movement in Korea."

The founders' meeting for the combined sports governing body is slated for Monday, and the General Assembly will be held sometime in April. The election for the KSOC president is scheduled for late October. The KOC's Kim and the KOCOSA's Kang will be co-presidents until then.

"With the merger of the KOC and the KOCOSA, South Korean sports will take a major step forward," Kim said. "We'll strive for a smooth merger for the development of our sports."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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