KOC head Kim Jung-haeng, pictured with IOC President Thomas Bach, is among those expected to attend the meeting ©Getty Images

A latest autonomy challenge for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is to be combated at a meeting between representatives of the South Korean Governement and the National Olympic Committee in Lausanne on Friday (March 4).

This follows the announcement of a plan to merge the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) and the Korean Council of Sport for All (KOCOSA).

The amalgamated body, which is expected to be called the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee, comes with the aim of creating one body to administer over sport at both an elite and at a grassroots level.

A deadline of March 27 has been given for the merger to be completed, with South Korea currently preparing to host the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Concerns have been raised by the IOC that the merger could threaten the independence of the KOC from the Government.

Ensuring such autonomy for sporting bodies is a key priority, with Kuwait having been suspended from the IOC in October for this reason amid similar disputes in other countries ranging from Mexico to India.

According to the South Korean Sports Ministry, the IOC sent a letter to the KOC last week suggesting the two bodies postpone the move, preferably until after August's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The situation is an irritiating distraction with just two years to go until the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Games ©Getty Images
The situation is a distraction with just two years to go until the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Games ©Getty Images

Kim Chong, vice-minister of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sports, is due to attend the meeting in Lausanne along with KOC President Kim Jung-haeng and the Korea Council of Sport for All chief Kang Young-joong.

The meeting had been initially due to take place on Monday (February 28) but has been pushed back four days due to the IOC Executive Board meeting taking place over the intervening three days.

IOC deputy secretary general and director of NOC Relations, Pere Miró, and autonomy delegate Patrick Hickey, are expected to lead the IOC delegation.

The merger plan has been mooted for much of the last decade, but the idea has gathered steam following the revision of the country’s sports promotion law in February last year.

It is hoped that sporting participation across the country will rise from 43 per cent in 2013 to over 60 per cent by 2017.

Others have criticised the plan as  “trying to mix water with oil” given the large differences between sport at a professional and public level.