Olympic chiefs today called on their fellow International Olympic Committee members to throw vice-president Kim Un-yong out of the organisation.
The decision-making executive board agreed with the ethics commission's report that the 74-year-old, jailed in his homeland on corruption charges, had
"seriously tarnished the reputation of the Olympic movement". The eight voting members of the executive board present voted unanimously to recommend
his expulsion in a secret ballot, IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said.
The future of the South Korean will now lie with the 120 or so IOC members who will vote on his fate at the IOC Session in Singapore in July. For Kim
to be expelled, the vote must be carried by two-thirds of the members. Olympic insiders say achieving that two-thirds majority will be no easy task
for the 13-strong executive board headed by President Jacques Rogge.
Kim is a consummate politician who has built up a strong network of power within the IOC since the Games came to Seoul in 1988. In the
vice-presidential election in Prague in 2003, Kim won easily, defeating Rogge's preferred candidate Gerhard Heiberg. The South Korean has many friends
within the Olympic movement and at a meeting of the Olympic Council of Asia earlier this month, several IOC members said they would be writing to the
president of South Korea asking for clemency for Kim.
Defenders of Kim, who would be the highest-ever IOC member to be stripped of his position, say the decision to charge him was based on political
grounds and part of a personal vendetta. Kim's appeal against his jail sentence for corruption was rejected by South Korea's Supreme Court last month.
Marking the end of the road for further appeals, the country's top court decided to uphold his two-year jail term and a fine of $US760,800
Kim had originally been sentenced to 2-1/2 years in jail but the term was cut to two years in September after an appeal to a lower court. One of the
most powerful officials in the IOC, Kim was arrested while in hospital a year ago on charges connected with his leadership of the South Korean
National Olympic Committee and the World Taekwondo Federation.
He continues to plead his innocence.
"I affirm my innocence of all charges," he said last month. "The charges were baseless and politically motivated."
Kim will remain suspended from his role as vice-president, the IOC said.