2018 Olympics Games chief has no doubts about Samsung commitment

A flag bearing the logo of Samsung Electronics is pictured at its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean conglomerate Samsung Group will make good on its sponsorship promises to the 2018 Winter Olympics despite being caught up in a corruption scandal that saw its chief arrested last week, Pyeongchang chief Lee Hee-beom said on Tuesday.

Samsung extended its TOP sponsorship contract as a worldwide partner to the Olympics in 2014, taking it through to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games. It also signed a local sponsorship agreement worth more than $90 million to support the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The arrest of Samsung Group chief Jay Y. Lee on Friday over his alleged role in a corruption scandal that led parliament to impeach President Park Geun-hye has created something of a management vacuum at Samsung.

Some experts have said that while day-to-day running of the company is unlikely to be affected, longer-term decision making could be hindered.

POCOG chief Lee, speaking at a news conference in Sapporo, Japan during the Winter Asiad, said the conglomerate had already demonstrated its commitment to the Pyeongchang Olympics.

"Samsung has already committed to sponsoring the IOC and the Pyeongchang organising committee," Korea's Yonhap news quoted Lee as saying.

"Even with the recent scandal, I don't think (the Olympic sponsorship) will be affected.

"We already have the agreements, and Samsung has already donated and has agreed to sponsor (the Olympics). So I don't think it will be affected."

The alpine town of Pyeongchang marked the one-year countdown to the 2018 Olympics earlier this month.

While the buildup to the Games was anything but smooth, preparations gradually gained momentum and the IOC's Coordination Commission has been highly complimentary of venues and logistics during its numerous visits to South Korea.

One area of concern highlighted, however, was Pyeongchang's low profile on the global stage compared to other Olympic hosts and Lee said they were working to improve visibility.

"I understand not many people are aware of Pyeongchang," he said. "Most Summer Olympics are hosted by metropolitan cities like Tokyo, Seoul and London. But most Winter Olympics are hosted by mountain clusters.

"But we're discussing with the IOC to have more international promotional activities from now on."

Pyeongchang will stage mountain events at the Feb. 9-25 Games next year while the coastal city of Gangneung will host figure skating, curling, ice hockey, speed and short-track skating.

(Wrtiing by Peter Rutherfordl Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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