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Moon pledges to make sports more available, less corrupt

May 12,2017
Upon the outbreak of the Choi-gate scandal last year that swept the nation, eventually leading to the ouster and arrest of former President Park Geun-hye, many entities in Korea were exposed as having involvement in the corruption case. The sports world was no exception. In particular, it was discovered that Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of Park’s confidante, Choi Soon-sil, and a national equestrian, was given special favors during high school as well as during college entrance. This provoked outrage among Koreans, who questioned the fairness of the college entrance system for athletes.

Well aware of the situation, President Moon Jae-in, who came into office on Wednesday, pledged during his campaign that he would excise such corruption from the sports community. Along with rooting out corruption, other items such as expanding Korea’s community sports facilities, improving the fairness and preventing government intervention into sports, was some of the main agenda points during his campaign. Upon his election now, many leaders in the Korean sports community are expecting that things will be in for a major overhaul.

Last year, the government intervened with elite sports organizations and community sports. But from now on, sports organizations will hopefully be left alone to build facilities and run their own regulatory systems.

In addition, Moon has said he would like to see more participation in community sports by women and people with physical disabilities. That said, he announced a policy to construct more sports facilities so that citizens can reach one in no more than ten minutes on foot.

Moon also promised to take an active role in supporting the PyeongChang Olympics.

“As the PyeongChang Olympics are the first Games to be hosted in Korea since 1988, I hope the president pays attention to it,” Lee Hee-beom, the chief organizer for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, said. “The successful completion of the Olympics will be a good opportunity to make ‘one Korea’ possible. Under the leadership of the new president, I am expecting to see a successful PyeongChang Olympics.”

For the Olympics to be hosted in PyeongChang, many challenges have been faced and overcome. After two tries, Korea was chosen as a host and PyeongChang was selected as the site for the Games, making Korea the fifth country to host the summer and winter Olympics, FIFA World Cup and the IAAF World Championships in Athletics.

Chung Mong-gyu, president of the Korea Football Association, has asked Moon for additional support to build a new training facility for the national team.

Since the first international event in Korea for the new administration will be the FIFA U-20 World Cup, scheduled to start on May 20, Chung asked Moon to attend the opening ceremony and the final match to show his support.

“Just as we’ve seen at the 2002 FIFA World Cup,” Chung said, “football has the power to bring us together.”

BY KIM HEE-SEON [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]