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Date 17.07.12 Hit 419
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UnYong KIM's Memoir 75(Graphys)


              


75  Samaranch :

Making the Olympics into the Greatest Festival

of the Mankind in Peace Time 3

 

 

 

 


 The 103rd Session, held in Paris, was a breakthrough for the history of Korean sports. It was the day that taekwondo was chosen as an official sport for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. This was a dream come true for the Korean people, but it was also the wish of 50 million Taekwondo families around the world.

Samaranch was once again the hidden supporter. The ITF, supported by North Korea, was involved in various activities to interfere with the WTF, and they were even demonstrating outside of the building where the IOC meetings were held.

President Samaranch said, “Don’t worry and lobby IOC members why taekwondo should be an Olympic sport.” Moreover, he agreed to our opinion and promised to address the issue at the last moment of the Session, so as to minimize the opposition within. As a long time friend, and leader in promoting the Olympic movement, if it weren’t for Samaranch, Taekwondo becoming an official sport would have only been possible in the distant future. Since Taekwondo was admitted into Olympics, all Taekwondo instructors with signboard of Karate or Korean Karate charged to Taekwondo and how Taekwondo grew.

The reason that Samaranch could have become such a success, was because he sacrificed everything for the Olympics. If he had used his authority for personal fame and wealth, he would have never been able to keep his position in international society. Moreover, the IOC is the second largest international organization, second only to the UN, and working for personal fame and wealth is impossible and unimaginable. I learned many valuable lessons from Samaranch. He has taught me that sacrificing oneself for an ideal is a way to find true meaning in one’s life.

He frequently jokes that he “doesn’t get paid.” This meant that although he devoted himself to affairs of great importance, the IOC doesn’t have the kind of funds to pay people like him. He silently claims that he is volunteering to serve the Olympic ideals. With this spirit, he has also solved many political issues, including issues of the Seoul Olympics, the entering of South Africa back into the international society, and issues in Yugoslavia.

He always expressed his fondness towards me, saying “Without Vice President Kim, nothing can be done.” While Korea was in troubled political times, he would send telegraphs of warning if he thought that something was going to happen, and he would call me to check if I was safe and well. He was a very compassionate man. In 1990, when I was going through retina surgery at the Yonsei University Severance Hospital, he would call many times to ask how I was doing, and he even arranged for me to receive reexamination at a hospital in Switzerland.

Samaranch always claimed the separation of sports from politics, but he also believed that a cooperative relationship between the two was necessary for the development of sports. He himself was a sports leader, but over 70% of the people that he met were political leaders of the world, and he always said that 70% of his work were related to politics in some way. For example, in 1992, the Winter Olympic Games were held in Albertville. He appealed to different countries to cease wars during the Olympics. He visited Bosnia, Hercegovina, and even Yugoslavia, and convinced them to realize the Olympic movement.

On the other hand, he was involved with issues such as the sports talks between North and South Korea, Olympic boycotting, South African reinstatement in the international society, and many more.

Samaranch was always reluctant to see the Korean peninsula remain divided. Maybe that was his reason, but he actively participated to open up talks between the North and South, under the IOC’s supervision.

And during the preparations for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, 4 meetings were held between North and South Korea. He showed passion for the Northern team by sending them food over 4 times. He suggested to the NOC and the IOC that a united Korean team would be better for the Olympics and the Asian Games. After the 1998 IOC executive meeting he sent an IOC EB member to North Korea as well.

2008 베이징 올림픽 때 사마란치 위원장, 라냐 IOC위원과 함께.jpg

     With Samaranch IOC President, Ranya ANOC President in 2008 Beijing Olympics

He helped South Africa to reclaim its position in international society and to put an end to racial discrimination. During the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, he claimed that “the world must be at peace during the Olympics,” and stopped the U.S bombing in Iraq. He supplied Yugoslavia with 20 million dollars to restore the Sarajevo Olympic stadium, which had been destroyed by war. He had always been passionate when meeting various political leaders in order to resolve such political issues. He was also involved with the issues regarding the “two Chinas,” and the individual participation of the countries in the Soviet Union. He believed that through his passion, he could realize true sports movement, the Olympic spirit.

He abolished the differences between professionals and amateurs, and left the Olympic participation decision making to the Olympic Committees in the different countries. He made efforts to let the best players compete against each other. Samaranch opened up ways for all players, professionals and amateurs alike, to be supported by the government and the hosting organizations. There was criticism that Olympic commercialism would be ruined by advocating only amateurs. Samaranch said, “Sports cannot be established by itself. Money cannot rule over sports and players, but there is no problem with money being used for sports.” He believed that commercializing sports without destroying the Olympic spirit was the best method. The Olympic spirit must be preserved above all, and this must be based on the practice of sports. He believed that supporting this was healthy commercialism.

Samaranch saved IOC from the brink of financial extinction and built to into billion dollar financial empire. It was from TV right sales, and marketing. He also built Olympic Museum to leave Olympic legacy. No other would have been able to do so. Only regret I have it that he didn’t seem to be neutral and aloof in Moscow in 2001, and I hope sincerely it is my misunderstanding.
He came to congratulate me at my hotel in Beijing during 2008 Olympics as soon as he heard a news that I was reinstated by President of Korea. He even frequently said  to day that to me you are my friend forever.


 



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