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South Korea's former trade minister put in charge of 2018 Olympics

Europe
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Seoul (dpa) - Former South Korean trade minister Lee Hee Beom will head the organizing committee for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, authorities said Thursday.

He was elected by the committee at a general assembly in Seoul nine days after his predecessor, businessman Cho Yang Ho, suddenly stepped down. Lee‘s appointment is subject to approval by the Sports Ministry, but he was expected to take up his duties Monday.

He was to visit the Olympic village in the winter sports resorts of Pyeongchang and nearby Gangneung in the east of the country.

After some initial teething troubles, the International Olympic Committee has said it is satisfied with the overall progress of preparation works.

Lee, who was trade minister from 2003 to 2006, has little prior experience of the sporting sector.

"The Pyeongchang 2018 Games is a historic project that will showcase the development of Korea to the world and put Pyeongchang‘s name on the map as a major winter sports hub," Lee was quoted as saying. "I will fully devote myself to deliver a successful Games in 2018."

Cho stepped down amid financial problems in the Hanjin corporate group, where he is chairman and chief executive. Hanjin Shipping, a major branch of the conglomerate, announced a debt restructuring initative in April in a bid to avoid insolvency.

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