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(LEAD) First contingent of S. Korean Olympic delegation to leave for Rio

All News 00:05 July 27, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS comments, details; CHANGES dateline)

INCHEON, July 27 (Yonhap) -- The first contingent of the South Korean delegation to the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics left for Brazil Wednesday, beginning the quest for another strong performance at the quadrennial competition.

The chartered flight carrying 159 athletes, officials and journalists departed for Rio just past midnight Wednesday. They will stop over in Dubai and will arrive in Rio at 12:40 p.m. Wednesday (local time), according to the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC).

South Korea has set out to grab at least 10 gold medals to finish in the top 10 in the fourth consecutive Summer Games. The Rio Olympics, the first in South America, will go on from Aug. 5 to 21.

Chung Mong-gyu, president of the Korea Football Association (KFA), will serve as the head of the delegation.

"We will spare no effort to support our athletes so that they can perform to the best of their abilities in the spirit of fair play," Chung said. "We will prove sporting prowess to the rest of the world and bring joy to our people."

Pistol shooter Jin Jong-oh, who will be defending two gold medals in Rio, has been named the male captain while veteran handball goalkeeper Oh Yong-ran, competing in her fifth Olympics, is the female captain. Jin was initially scheduled to carry the national flag at Incheon International Airport, but he has already left the country to prepare for his first event, 10m air pistol, on Aug. 6. Oh did the honors instead.

Oh, 43, said her previous Olympic experience has done little to ease the pressure.

"If anything, I am more nervous than before," Oh told reporters at Incheon International Airport. "I've been given this great opportunity to be captain. I'd love to win the gold medal and come home with my head held high."

Kim Jung-haeng, one of the two co-presidents of the KOC, has pulled out of the trip, citing health problems. The other KOC co-president, Kang Young-joong, is making arrangements to take Kim's place in Rio.

Overall, South Korea will compete in 24 of 28 sports, with 204 athletes and 129 officials.

While the opening ceremony is set for Aug. 5, the first official Olympic event for South Korea will be the men's football group stage match against Fiji on Aug. 4.

The KOC said there will be no media availability for the delegation at Rio de Janeiro-Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport, given security concerns in the area.

From Aug. 4 to 22, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will operate a 24-hour situation room to keep tabs on the athletes and share relevant information with the foreign ministry, police and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, as necessary.


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