Souring bilateral ties cited as primary reasonKim Bo-eun

Olympics to see little of Korea's conglomerate chiefs

Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun, left, and HDC Hyundai Development Company Chairman Chung Mong-gyu

There will not be much involvement of Korea’s conglomerate chiefs at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics kick-off on Friday, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and lingering diplomatic tension between the neighboring countries.

Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun and HDC Hyundai Development Company Chairman Chung Mong-gyu, will head to the Japanese capital as the respective heads of the Korea Archery Association (KAA) and the Korea Football Association (KFA).

Among conglomerate leaders, SK Chairman Chey Tae-won heads the Korea Handball Federation, LS Group Chairman Koo Ja-yeol the Korea Cycling Federation and SK Networks Chairman Choi Shin-won the Korean Fencing Federation.

The conglomerate chiefs heading major associations have attended past Olympics events, but the pandemic has led the organizing committee to scale down slots for visitors to the Games.

“Under current COVID-19 circumstances, the organizing committee has drastically reduced slots for non-athletes and so it has become almost impossible for conglomerate heads to attend the Games,” an industry official said.

Additionally, bilateral tensions are high after President Moon Jae-in canceled his planned trip to Tokyo at the very last minute where he hoped to meet one-on-one with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, due primarily to recent inappropriate remarks by a senior Japanese diplomat in Seoul.

Hyundai Motor’s chairman is on a visit to the U.S. to check up on the company’s investment plans, and will drop by the Tokyo Games before returning home. He is set to attend a mixed team event that will be held at the Yumenoshima Park Archery Field, Saturday.

HDC’s chairman will also be present at the Games. He also holds the title of vice president of the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee, was elected chairman of the K League in 2011 and has headed the KFA since 2013. He secured a third term in January this year.

Other chiefs of major groups will not be present at the Games this year.

Olympics to see little of Korea's conglomerate chiefs

South Korean archer Ku Bon-chan, right, hangs a gold medal around Korea Archery Association President Chung Euisun’s neck after winning the men’s individual event, at the Rio Olympics in Brazil in 2016. Yonhap

Chung Euisun has headed the KAA since 2005 and will serve in the position through 2025. He was able to secure terms based on Hyundai Motor’s longtime support for the sport. The association was set up by Asan Foundation Chairman Chung Mong-joon in 1983. Hyundai Motor Group Honorary Chairman Chung Mong-koo served as its second chairman starting in 1985.

The Hyundai Motor head set up the nation’s largest archery competition, the Hyundai Motor Company’s Chung Mong-koo Cup Korea Archery Competition, and the group has offered archery equipment to schools here.

SK Group has been providing extensive support for handballers, ever since Chey was appointed as head of the national association in 2008. The group set up SK Handball Stadium at Seoul’s Olympic Park in 2011 and founded the men’s and women’s handball teams. SK also set up a foundation to foster young handballers and is operating a handball training program.

Regarding SK boss Chey’s visit to Tokyo during the Games, SK said Wednesday his itinerary has yet to be decided. Samsung Electronics, the only official sponsor for the Olympics among local firms, will not have any owner-chiefs attending the Games as expected, as its leader Lee Jae-yong is currently serving a prison sentence after being convicted of bribery charges related to impeached former President Park Geun-hye.


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