JINCHEON, South Korea, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's national athletes on Monday officially kicked off their training for the 2019 season under the cloud of sexual assault scandals in sports.
More than 360 athletes and coaches in 18 sports gathered for a training kickoff ceremony at the National Training Center in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province, some 90 kilometers south of Seoul.
The ceremony was held amid sexual assault and other violent scandals that rocked the country's sports community. For this reason, it started with an apology from Lee Kee-heung, the chief of the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC).
"The misconducts that happened at the national training center had a serious impact on our athletes and coaches," Lee said. "To wipe out corruption in the sports community, we'll carefully manage the national training center and will give our best support for the national athletes to get good results from international competitions."
Officials from member federations of the KSOC and the national team coaches' union later read a resolution to get rid of corruption in sports, but they asked the government to review its plan to separate the national Olympic committee arm from the KSOC. To improve the elite sports culture in South Korea, the sports ministry previously announced it plans to separate the national Olympic committee from the KSOC and let the former manage all international competition-related administrations.
Before the ceremony, the KSOC opened a consulting room designated for safeguarding the athletes at the training center. Named the "athletes' human rights consulting room," a human rights expert and members of the KSOC athletes' committee, including its head Ryu Seung-min, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes' Commission, will work there to help the athletes.