SBD/Issue 74/Olympics

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  • South Korea Pardons Former Samsung Boss To Help '18 Olympics Bid

    Former Samsung Chair Granted Pardon  
    To Assist With '18 Winter Olympics Bid 
    South Korea Tuesday granted a presidential pardon to former Samsung Chair Lee Kun-hee, who had been "convicted of tax evasion and breach of trust, in an attempt to boost the country's chances of hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics," according to Song Jung-a of the FINANCIAL TIMES. South Korea has been "battling to gain support" for its town of Pyeongchang, which failed in bids to land the '10 and '14 Games. While Lee, an IOC member since '96, was "cleared of bribery allegations, he was given a three-year suspended jail sentence in August last year for his role in selling bonds of a Samsung unit to his children at below-market prices." Lee "stepped aside from his IOC duties amid the charges" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 12/30). South Korea President Lee Myung-bak Tuesday said that he "decided to grant special amnesty" to Kun-hee so that he could "retain his membership" at the IOC and lead Pyeongchang's bid for the '18 Olympics. In N.Y., Choe Sang-Hun notes it is unknown whether the IOC will restore Lee's membership, but Samsung is "an important Olympic sponsor" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/30).

    OLYMPIC MOVEMENT: Korean Olympic Committee Chair Park Yong-sung Tuesday said Lee "may resume his IOC activities in time for an IOC general meeting" scheduled for February 8 in Vancouver, four days before the start of the Vancouver Olympics. That meeting will be the "last general meeting before the IOC chooses the host city" for the '18 Games at a vote in '11 (KOREA HERALD, 12/30). Without a pardon from the government, "Lee might have faced expulsion from the IOC" (AROUNDTHERINGS.com, 12/29). BUSINESS WEEK's Moon Ihlwan wrote the "former chairman of the country's largest company and the son of its founder is the best person to promote Korea's bid" for the '18 Olympics. Lee is the "only non-athlete member" representing South Korea on the IOC, and the country's government admitted that the pardon was "aimed at furthering Korea's national interest." However, the move "drew criticism from civic groups" (BUSINESSWEEK.com, 12/29).

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