— Published 23 September 2022

Whistleblower stirs up trouble

A strange case. According to a South Korean whistleblower, the entry of taekwondo into the Olympic programme at the Sydney Games in 2000 was greatly facilitated by the payment of bribes. Ho Kim, a 66-year-old South Korean, revealed in an interview with the British newspaper The Times that he was directly involved in a corruption case. At the time of the incident, he was head of the marketing and public relations department of the International Taekwondo Federation. He claims that IOC members were bribed, with money or gifts, to vote in favour of the sport’s inclusion. Taekwondo was preferred to the more universal sport of karate in the 1990s when the IOC Session approved the programme for the Sydney Games in 1994. Taekwondo had been a demonstration sport at the 1988 Seoul Games and the 1992 Barcelona Games. World Taekwondo said in a statement that it had “absolutely no knowledge” of any attempt at corruption. But the international body said it had asked that evidence of the allegations be shared with its integrity committee so that it could launch an investigation. “It would therefore not be appropriate to comment further until the investigation is complete,” it continued. In the meantime, World Taekwondo continues to uphold the highest standards of good governance and integrity in the global administration of our sport. At the time of the incident, World Taekwondo had been chaired since its inception in 1973 by South Korean Kim Un-yong. President of GAISF, member of the IOC Executive Board, the Korean leader was arrested in 2004 for embezzlement and corruption, then sentenced to two and a half years in prison. He died in 2017.