Will Samsung Leadership Vacuum Affect Sponsorship of 2018 Winter Olympics?
SAPPORO, Japan, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) -- Samsung Group's sponsoring of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea won't be affected by the current leadership vacuum at the conglomerate, the competition's chief organizer said Tuesday.
Samsung is a local sponsor for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games and is also a global Top Olympic Partner (TOP) for the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In April 2015, Samsung reached an agreement with PyeongChang worth 100 billion won (US$87.2 million).
Samsung recently saw its de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, arrested over his alleged role in an influence-peddling scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. But Lee Hee-beom, the chief organizer for PyeongChang 2018, said the current situation at Samsung won't have any bearings on preparations for the Olympics.'
"Samsung has already committed to sponsoring the IOC and the PyeongChang organizing committee," Lee said at a press conference here in Sapporo, host of the Asian Winter Games. Lee led a PyeongChang delegation to the Japanese city this week to promote the first Winter Olympics in South Korea.
"Even with the recent scandal, I don't think (the Olympic sponsorship) will be affected," Lee Hee-beom continued. "We already have the agreements, and Samsung has already donated and has agreed to sponsor (the Olympics). So I don't think it will be affected."
Lee Jae-yong has played a key role in the group's important business affairs since his father, Lee Kun-hee, was hospitalized in 2014.
In addition to sponsoring PyeongChang, Samsung is the official Olympic partner in wireless communication equipment and computing equipment category. It became a TOP partner at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, and in August 2014, Samsung and the IOC extended their TOP partnership through the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games.
With the PyeongChang Olympics under a year away, Lee Hee-beom said the city will accelerate its promotional efforts both at home and abroad.
"I understand not many people are aware of PyeongChang," he said. "Most Summer Olympics are hosted by metropolitan cities like Tokyo, Seoul and London. But most Winter Olympics are hosted by mountain clusters. But we're discussing with the IOC to have more international promotional activities from now on."
And since the next two Olympic Games will also stay in Asia -- the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing -- Lee said the organizing committees for the three cities have been actively discussing cooperation.
"We've identified items to cooperate on and we'll produce a joint communique soon," Lee said. "We're looking into exchanging information, (honorary) ambassadors and experts. And we hope that before Beijing 2022, many countries will use our venues as their training centers."
Lee also said PyeongChang and Beijing are "cautiously discussing" implementing a visa exemption agreement between the two countries. South Korea and Japan already have one in place.