By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean Olympic leadership hopeful Chang Jung-soo on Wednesday vowed to ensure smooth integration in sports.
The 64-year-old announced his candidacy for the president of the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC), the nation's leading sports organization. He's the first to throw his hat into the ring.
The election for the top KOC position is scheduled for Oct. 5, and candidates must register by Sept. 23.
Chang brings diverse experiences in competitive sports, sports administration and financial management. The former judoka moved to Bolivia in the 1970s and served as the head coach of the Bolivian national judo team and later a Venezuelan college team during the decade.
After a move to New York, Chang worked at a Wall Street financial firm AXA Equitable for 23 years. He was also the head of the New York chapter for the National Unification Advisory Council, the South Korean presidential advisory panel on unification, from 1999 to 2001.
Chang was also the sports ambassador for the Bolivia Olympic Committee from 2011 to 2015.
"Integration has emerged a keyword in our society, and the world of sports is no exception," he said. "The launch of the integrated KOC is the start. And as someone experienced in elite sports, sports administration and finances, I think I am the perfect fit for this organization."
Chang said South Korea must take initiatives to blend sports with culture, information technology and marketing, among others, to evolve into "an advanced sporting nation."
Among his pledges, Chang said he will seek to develop the sports industry as "a new growth engine" with the KOC at the forefront. He said he also wants to improve the quality of life for athletes and create more job opportunities after retirement.
Under domestic law, the KOC, which oversees the country's sports in general with a focus on elite sports, and the Korea Council of Sport for All (KOCOSA), which aims to promote daily sports and a healthy lifestyle for the people, had to merge by March 27 for the purpose of having an advanced management system and environment in sports.
The merged body has been named the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC), but the new title will not be officially used until after September.
Neither of the two incumbents, Kang Young-joong and Kim Jung-haeng, will be running for the position. Other major names in sports administration are ineligible to run. Under the KOC code, they had to resign from their positions in order to enter the KOC race before the election committee was formed last Friday.