Five South Korean athletes vying to become the candidate for International Olympic Committee (IOC) membership went through interviews on Thursday, a chance to state their qualifications for the position while also having their English proficiency tested.
The Evaluation Commission of the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC) interviewed five Olympians competing for the opportunity to run for a seat on the IOC Athletes' Commission: volleyball player Kim Yeon-koung, golfer Park In-bee, taekwondo athlete Lee Dae-hoon, pistol shooter Jin Jong-oh and badminton player Kim So-yeong.
Archer Oh Jin-hyek, a three-time Olympic medalist who entered the race last week, could not attend the interview because he's training with the national team in Paris. Oh has been automatically dropped from consideration.
The election is scheduled during the Paris Summer Olympics next year. The KSOC must endorse one candidate by Sept. 1.
To ensure transparency, the KSOC did not reveal who served on its Evaluation Commission.
After Thursday's interviews, the KSOC's nine-member Advisory Council will select one final candidate. The KSOC's Athletes' Commission then will vote on the choice on Aug. 16 and 17.
The candidate for the IOC Athletes' Commission must have competed at the previous edition of the Olympics or must have qualified for the Olympics in the same year as the election.
According to the IOC, the candidate also must be able to "communicate effectively" in English or French, the two official working languages of the Olympic body.
South Korea has had two Olympic athletes serve on the Athletes' Commission. Moon Dae-sung, the 2004 Olympic men's taekwondo gold medalist, was there from 2008 to 2016, and Ryu Seung-min, the 2004 Olympic men's singles table tennis champion, was elected in 2016, with his term ending next year. Ryu is also the first vice chair of the commission.
Of the five candidates this year, Kim Yeon-koung is the only one without an Olympic medal, though she is an immensely popular athlete who carried underdog South Korea to fourth place in 2012 and 2021.
"I've been in so many matches over my career, and I don't think I've ever been this nervous," Kim said before her interview at Olympic Parktel in Seoul. "I've prepared so much for this. I've always wanted to get involved in sports administration or sports diplomacy. And I decided to run for IOC Athletes' Commission membership because I wanted to help develop sports further."
Jin Jong-oh is the most successful shooter in Olympic history, with four gold medals and two silver medals across five Olympic Games. He lost out to Ryu in the South Korean race for candidacy in 2015, with Ryu's superior English skills making the difference.
"I've been taking three-hour English lessons every day," Jin said. "I've been able to build on my previous experience of running for this position."
Lee Dae-hoon, who won two medals in two different weight classes at three Olympic Games, said he gave himself a crash course on English and on the history of the IOC.
"I want to be able to develop taekwondo, which is our national sport," Lee said. "I think I can contribute to the development of Korean sports as a whole."
Park In-bee is an LPGA Hall of Famer with the 2016 Rio de Janerio Olympic gold medal to her name. She also competed at the Tokyo Olympics two years ago and said Thursday she did so because she wanted to run for Athletes' Commission membership.
"I was able to win the gold medal in Rio by leaning on my Olympic spirit," Park said. "Now I want to spread virtues of that spirit to the rest of the world and be the champion of the Olympic movement."
Kim So-yeong teamed up with Kong Hee-young for the women's doubles bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. She is also serving on the Athletes' Commission for the Badminton World Federation (BWF).
"It's an honor just to have a chance to compete with these great candidates," Kim said. "I've long been interested in sports diplomacy, and I started dreaming bigger dreams after joining the BWF's Athletes' Commission."
Elected by fellow Olympians, Athletes' Commission members serve an eight-year term, and have the same functions and responsibilities as other members.
Source: Yonhap News Agency