Taekwondo in tears as Kim Un-yong passes away at 86
Un-yong Kim, former vice president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and first president of the WTF, passed away Tuesday. He was 86 years old.
Sources close to the deceased said Kim, feeling under the weather, was admitted to Severance Hospital on Monday and was pronounced dead at 2:21 a.m. Tuesday.
During his sports administration career, Kim was one of the most powerful figures in the IOC, which he joined in 1986. He played an instrumental role in helping Seoul win the right to host the 1988 Summer Olympics.
He also served as the founding president of the World Taekwondo Federation — presently World Taekwondo — and of the South Korean national Olympic committee. Kim was largely responsible for helping taekwondo become an Olympic medal sport.
Kim was also credited with helping set up the joint march by the South Korean and North Korean athletes at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Summer Games.
In 2001, Kim waged an unsuccessful campaign for the IOC presidency, losing to Jacques Rogge, 59-23.
The latter part of Kim’s career was marred by a series of corruption allegations and a conviction in his native country.
In 1999, Kim received “the most serious” warning from the IOC in connection with the scandal surrounding the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. An IOC probe concluded that the bidding committee for Salt Lake City had helped subsidize the work of Kim’s son, John, with a local company, and that the senior Kim had used his clout to schedule piano performances for his daughter with the Utah Symphony.
In 2004, Kim was arrested and later convicted on bribery and embezzlement charges in Seoul. The Supreme Court here upheld the ruling from lower courts in early 2005. Kim resigned from the IOC in May 2005 rather than face an expulsion vote by the IOC members.
But he didn’t stop pursuing his lifelong career in the sports field.
In November last year, he established the Kim Un Yong Sport Committee to work toward sports development and enhancement in Korea. The 2017 Kimunyong Cup International Open Taekwondo Championships are scheduled for Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 in Seoul.
A biographical book on Kim will be published soon by the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee. Kim worked together with the committee on the book until recently.
He was last seen in public at the opening ceremony of the National Training Center in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province, last Wednesday.
He is survived by his wife, son and two daughters.