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New Olympic body head to focus on finances, athlete employment

All News 18:01 October 05, 2016

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 5 (Yonhap) -- Lee Kee-heung, elected head of the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) on Wednesday, said his main focus will be on achieving financial independence for his organization and creating jobs for retired athletes.

"They will be the most important tasks during my term," said Lee, who earned 294 of 892 votes to beat Chang Ho-sung, a university professor, by 81. "I can handle other issues with the help of other KOC executives, but I will stake everything on accomplishing those two goals."

The 61-year-old was the KOC's vice president from 2005 to 2016 and also president of the Korea Swimming Federation from 2010 to 2016. Before that, he had been vice president of the Korea Modern Pentathlon Federation and president of the Korean Canoe Federation.

Lee was the chef de mission for Korea at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games and the 2012 London Olympics.

His term will run through February 2021 and will take him through the next two Olympics: the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang and the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.

Under domestic law, the KOC, which oversees the country's sports in general with a focus on elite sports, and the Korea Council of Sport for All (KOCOSA), which aims to promote daily sports and a healthy lifestyle for all, had to merge by March 27 for the purpose of having an advanced management system and environment in sports.

Since the merger in March, the KOC has been headed by Kang Young-joong and Kim Jung-haeng, but the two didn't go for re-election. And Lee's presidency began immediately after his election win.

"I feel the heavy weight of responsibilities," Lee said. "I will try to build a KOC where everyone will come together. I will try to lead by example and let my actions do the talking. I will build a great future in sports for younger generations."

Lee spoke of "a mountain of problems" that the KOC is faced with, and said he was looking forward to tackling them "one by one" with the help of other sports officials.

"During the merger process of the two sports organizations, there may have been disagreements and misunderstandings of some issues," Lee said. "I will try to resolve them through dialogue."

Lee's margin of victory was considered larger than anticipated. Asked to comment on his relatively easy win, Lee said, "I think it reflects people's desire to allow me to try and solve pressing issues."


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