Samsung chairman Lee to end IOC membership; World Rowing and FEI presidents proposed
By Jonathan Rest
Lee Kun-Hee, the chairman of Korean electronics giant Samsung, is to end his 21-year membership of the International Olympic Committee next month because of deteriorating health.
Lee became an IOC member in 1996, two years before Samsung's first Olympic Games as an IOC TOP sponsor (its current deal runs until 2020).
However, he has been hospitalised since 2014 and unable to fulfil his functions as an IOC member, prompting his family to ask the IOC not to consider him for re-election at the session in Lima in mid-September.
In a statement, the IOC praised Lee for being "entirely dedicated to the Olympic Movement," adding: "Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time during his continued illness."
His son Lee Jae-Yong has been in charge of Samsung since his father became ill, but is now facing a 12-year prison sentence for his alleged role in a bribery scandal.
The elder Lee's exit from the IOC means South Korea, the host of next February's winter Olympic Games, will have just one IOC member by the time of the event, namely former Olympic table tennis gold medallist Ryu Seung-min who was elected to the athletes commission last year.
By the time the IOC session in Lima closes on 16 September, there will be 103 members, with the IOC executive board having today announced the nine individuals it will propose to the membership in the Peruvian capital.
The IOC has championed gender equality over the past few years, but only three of the proposed members are women: Baklai Temengil, from Palau, who is vice-president of the Oceania National Olympic Committees; Kristin Kloster Aasen, vice-president of the Norwegian Olympic Committee; and Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul, president of the Badminton Association of Thailand.
All three are being proposed as individual members, along with Jiri Kejval, president of the Czech Olympic Committee, and Luis Mejia Oviedo, president of the Dominican Republic Olympic Committee.
The two proposed members representing an NOC or a continental association of NOCs are Chile's Neven Ilic, the recently-elected president of the Pan American Sports Organisation, and Khalid Muhammad Al Zubair, president of the Oman Olympic Committee.
In addition, there are two proposed members representing international federations, namely World Rowing's Jean-Christophe Rolland from France and Ingmar de Vos, of equestrianism's FEI, from Belgium.
The additions of Rolland and de Vos means soccer and track and field will continue to be without an official representative at the IOC.
Sepp Blatter and Lamine Diack, the disgraced former presidents of Fifa and the IAAF, were both members of the IOC, and their replacements, respectively Gianni Infantino and Sebastian Coe were thought to be in line to follow suit ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics. However, the two were absent from the list of new members last year, and neither have been included for 2017.
Coe said just last week that his focus remains on driving reform at the IAAF.
The IOC executive board said of the nine proposed candidates: "[They] offer various skillsets and come from backgrounds as diverse as sports, management, volunteering, engineering, business administration, commerce and tourism, the media and NGOs. All of them can bring skills and experience needed by the IOC, and aim to further strengthen the ranks of the Olympic Movement in the years to come."