Cho Yang-ho, a South Korean corporate executive who led PyeongChang’s successful bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics, was elected Thursday as the head of the event’s organizing committee.
The Hanjin Group chairman fills the vacancy left by Kim Jin-sun, who abruptly resigned on July 21 after nearly three years on the job. Kim cited a need for new leadership for PyeongChang, which will stage South Korea’s first-ever Winter Games.
Cho’s election is pending final authorization by the minister of culture, sports and tourism, though the step is considered a formality. Cho will hold the position for two years from the day of the minister’s approval. Initially, Cho was only supposed to stay on for the remainder of Kim’s previous term, which will end on Oct. 18, 2015.
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 in an International Olympic Committee vote to stage the 2018 Olympics.
In accepting the position, Cho said he feels “a heavy burden of responsibility” as he takes over the Olympic organizing committee.
“I will try to rely on my experience as the head of the bidding committee to ensure a successful Olympics,” Cho said. “As the top organizer, I will try to be a good communicator.”
Cho admitted his corporate duties had kept him from staying on top of PyeongChang’s organizing efforts in the three years since he left the bidding committee and that he plans to bring himself up to date “as quickly as possible.”
After Kim announced his resignation, Cho was one of the first names mentioned as a potential successor. Cho at first declined the opportunity through a statement, saying he wanted to stay committed to his group’s affairs.
Cho explained on Thursday he changed his mind based on advice from those around him and that he also wanted to keep the promise he had made with the IOC that he would one day become the chief organizer for PyeongChang.
He said his taking over the Winter Games organizing committee likely will not affect his corporate management too much.
“I don’t operate the group all by myself; it’s run by a system,” Cho said. “The basic principle of management is to delegate responsibilities whenever necessary.”
He also thanked residents of PyeongChang and its home province, Gangwon, for their hospitality during his time as the top bidding official and said he would like to deliver a successful Winter Olympics for them.
Cho brings years of experience in sports administration to the table. He is one of three vice presidents of the Korean Olympic Committee. He has also been the president of the Korea Table Tennis Association since 2008 and a vice president of the Asian Table Tennis Union since 2009.
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. (Yonhap)