Pyeongchang vows to respect IOC rules in 2018 bid

November 5, 2010

The head of Pyeongchang’s bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics pledged Thursday to respect the IOC’s rules after being warned following a conflict-of-interest investigation into sponsorship contracts tied to the South Korean candidacy.

Cho Yang-ho, who is chief executive of Korean Air and head of the Pyeongchang committee, said in an e-mailed letter to the IOC Ethics Commission that the bid group and all related organizations “will strictly respect the IOC Code of Ethics, the Rules of Conduct and all proper implementing provisions.”

His comments came a day after the International Olympic Committee issued a warning to Pyeongchang and reminded the bid to “fully respect the rules of conduct.” Two South Korean companies signed sponsorship deals with international sports federations headed by senior IOC members.

Korean Air signed a two-year, $1 million sponsorship deal with the International Skating Union (ISU) in October. The IOC said both sides agreed to postpone the start of the deal until after the 2018 host-city vote in July.

Ottavio Cinquanta is an IOC executive board member who heads the ISU.

The IOC said Wednesday a separate sponsorship deal between South Korean electronics giant Samsung and the international rowing federation, known as FISA, did not break the rules. Samsung is one of the IOC’s global sponsors.

“We appreciate the logic of this decision at this time, which has also been conveyed to the International Olympic Committee,” the Pyeongchang bid group said Thursday in a statement. “We believe that this matter is now closed and we can all move forward into the next phase of the 2018 bid campaign.

“PyeongChang 2018 has always been and continues to remain committed to complying with all IOC rules and regulations.”

Korean Air said it remains committed to sports sponsorship but decided to delay the ISU deal to avoid any “misunderstanding.”

“This decision clears up any current concerns that may have arisen,” the airline said in a statement Thursday.

Cinquanta insisted he did nothing wrong.

“I wasn’t acting as an IOC member for this deal, I was acting as the ISU president,” Cinquanta told The Associated Press from his office in Milan. “The commercial rights we granted are property of the ISU, not Mr. Cinquanta. If I thought I had done something wrong maybe I would have acted differently, but I don’t know because that’s not the case.”

Pyeongchang is competing against Munich and the French town of Annecy to host the 2018 Winter Games. The IOC will select the host by secret ballot next July 6 in Durban, South Africa.