Questions raised over Unification Church’s involvement in 2018 Winter Olympic venue
The Olympic Games are no stranger to influence-peddling scandals and delegate buying in the selection of venues. In December 1998, for example, it was revealed that International Olympic Committee delegates had been on the receiving end of all types of bribes—ranging from Super Bowl tickets to plastic surgery—in order for Salt Lake City to secure the 2002 games.
A 2006 investigation by the governor of Nagano Prefecture found that the Japanese city has expended $4.4 million “on entertainment alone” in efforts to host the 1998 games. The report concluded Nagano had engaged in “illegitimate and excessive level of hospitality” to IOC members,
This is not to imply that the IOC corruption continues to be rampant, but rather, that with the selection of any venue, it’s to be expected that the media in other countries are wont to nitpick over any decision.
On July 6, when the IOC announced that Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, South Korea had been picked to host the 2018 winter games, TV cameras zoomed in on the tear-streaked face of Korea’s champion figure skater Kim Yuna - who had energetically campaigned on behalf of her country.
South Korean president Lee Myung-bak promptly announced the nation would invest the equivalent of 40 billion Japanese yen into upgrading facilities.
But the confetti had barely settled in Seoul after the announcement when Asahi Geino (July 28) ran an article noting that the site of the 2018 games has close ties with the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, aka the Unification Church.
“The church is the largest shareholder of the Yongpyong ski resort, with 49.9% of shares,” says Yoshifu Arita, a well known investigative journalist and currently a member of Japan’s House of Councilors. “In addition, the Segye Ilbo newspaper founded by the church [called Sekai Nippo in its Japanese edition] owns another 12.59%.