The government announced Tuesday it will reserve the right to rescind bids by municipalities to stage international sports competitions, as part of changes aimed at ensuring more transparency in bidding processes.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said it will revise laws guiding the central government’s support on prospective hosts of sporting events. Under proposed changes, the government will acquire the right to strip cities of their bid to bring home international competitions, if it discovers corruption and other irregularities during the bidding process.
Hopeful hosts typically require approval by the central government before they can submit their formal bids to host international events, such as the Olympic Games.
The ministry’s move comes in light of a recent controversy involving the metropolitan city of Gwangju, which won the right to host the 2019 world swimming championships under disputed circumstances.
Last month, Kim Yoon-suk, secretary general of Gwangju’s bidding committee, was detained on charges that he’d forged signatures of key government officials in a bid document guaranteeing the central government’s financial support for the swimming event, formally called the FINA World Aquatics Championships.
The document, which had forged signatures by ex-Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and former Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik, was eventually replaced with a proper paper before Gwangju submitted the final bid. They city won the bid hours after the ministry publicly accused Gwangju officials of forgery.
After the scandal broke out, the government said it would retract its financial support for Gwangju and seek criminal charges for the implicated.
Gwangju prosecutors raided the office of the city’s mayor, Kang Un-tae, before putting Kim Yoon-suk and another Gwangju civil servant under arrest.
Against this backdrop, the ministry said it would tighten its overall review process on cities that hope to bid for international events.
“We hope to make sure cities go through a transparent and fair process before bidding for international events,” the ministry said in a statement.
“We will require them to report any major developments to their local authorities and to our ministry in the bidding process.”