Former top bid official nominated as new head of S. Korea's first Winter Olympics

By 배현정
  • Published : Jul 26, 2014 - 15:22
  • Updated : Jul 26, 2014 - 15:22
Cho Yang-ho, a corporate executive who led PyeongChang's successful bid to host the 2018 Winter Games, has been nominated to be the top organizer of the event, sources said Saturday.

Cho, chairman of Hanjin Group, is in line to replace former chief organizer Kim Jin-sun, who resigned on Monday, citing the need for new leadership for PyeongChang, which will host South Korea's first-ever Winter Games.

Cho, 65, was the head of PyeongChang's Winter Games bidding committee in 2011, when the alpine town, located some 180 kilometers east of Seoul, beat out Munich of Germany for the right to stage the 2018 Olympics.

The new chief organizer will be elected at a general congress of PyeongChang's organizing committee. No date has been set for the meeting, but sources say it will likely be held on Friday.

Earlier in the week, Chung Chang-soo, a career bureaucrat and a former vice minister of the land ministry, emerged as a strong candidate to succeed Kim. Chung's potential nomination was met with criticism from the sports circle, since Chung had no background in sports administration.

Cho, who has been the president of the Korea Table Tennis Association since 2008 and the vice president of the Asian Table Tennis Union since 2009, is also a vice president of the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC). Korean Air, a flagship affiliate of Hanjin Group, operates a professional volleyball team along with semi-pro teams in men's speed skating and women's table tennis.

Cho was one of the first names to be bandied about as a potential successor to Kim, but he initially turned down the opportunity to fill the vacancy. Cho said his responsibilities with Hanjin Group would prevent him from working for PyeongChang and instead vowed to assist the Olympics host's organizing efforts from the sidelines.

According to sources, when Chung's possible candidacy was panned, organizing officials convinced Cho to change his mind.

"Now that I've agreed to take on the job as the chief organizer, I will dedicate myself to ensure a successful Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, relying on my experience as the top bid official," Cho said in a statement released through Hanjin Group.

"Many people in and outside Korea recommended that I take this position and I also wanted to keep the promise I'd made with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to work for a successful Olympics here."

Until the new head of the organizing committee is elected, Kim Jung-haeng, head of the KOC, will serve as the interim chief.