Kim, 67, had been the top organizer of the Winter Olympics to be held in PyeongChang, an alpine town in the eastern province of Gangwon, since October 2011. In July that year, PyeongChang beat out Germany’s Munich for the right to stage the 2018 Olympics.
In a statement released by PyeongChang’s organizing committee, Kim said the host city needed “new leadership” as it goes through a transitional period in its preparation for the Olympics.
“PyeongChang 2018 is at a turning point for the latter half of its Games preparation, which requires more detailed planning and execution,” Kim said, according to an English-language statement.
|Kim Jin-sun. (Yonhap)|
“At this critical juncture, I believe that PyeongChang 2018 needs new leadership and a stronger system that will effectively carry out various Games-related projects. And this is why I decided to resign.”
The organizing committee said Kim announced his resignation during an executive staff meeting on Monday. Earlier in the day, a government official said Kim recently had expressed his intention to quit and that his resignation offer had been accepted, without offering specific a timeframe.
Kim was serving in his second term as the head of the organizing committee, which was to end in October 2015.
Kim was the head of PyeongChang’s bidding committee on two failed attempts, first in 2003 and then in 2007. He was the governor of Gangwon Province on those occasions.
After leaving the provincial office, Kim served as a special ambassador for PyeongChang’s successful third bid in 2011.
Rumors that Kim would leave the post first surfaced last week, when he did not attend a groundbreaking ceremony for new venues for ice sports for the 2018 Olympics in Gangneung, a city near PyeongChang, last Thursday.
The organizing committee in June came under inspection by the state auditor, the Board of Audit and Inspection, and Moon Dong-hoo, then a secretary general of the organizing committee who reportedly became a target, stepped down.
After his meeting with the organizing committee executives, Kim denied his resignation was in any way connected to the inspection, saying he was not under any pressure from outside to quit.
Cho Yang-ho, chairman of Hanjin Group and the head of the bidding committee in 2011, has been mentioned as a potential candidate to replace Kim. The business executive, however, said while it would be a great honor to take over as the chief organizer of the upcoming Winter Olympics, his commitment to Hanjin Group will prevent him from working for PyeongChang 2018.
“Even though I won’t be the new head of the organizing committee, I’d like to contribute the best I can from the sidelines for a successful Winter Olympics,” Cho added. (Yonhap)