An extensive investigation will be launched by the South Korean Human Rights Commission ©Getty Images

An extensive investigation will be launched by South Korea's Human Rights Commission into allegations of sexual assault and abuse across numerous sports in the country.

Choi Young-ae, chairperson of the Commission, said the probe would last a year and would "be conducted nationwide in all sports and all ages".

The investigation, one of the largest ever conducted in the country, is expected to focus on as many as 50 sports and include children competing from primary schools upwards.

It will address "systematic and sustained" abuse in South Korean sport.

"We will conduct a fact-finding inquiry that will be the largest in scale ever," Choi said.

"The purpose of our probe lies in finding out the actual circumstances in the first place, and its final goal will be to map out measures to improve human rights conditions in the sports sector."

The investigation comes in the wake of allegations made by Olympic short track speed skating champion Shim Suk-hee, who filed a complaint against her former coach Cho Jae-beom last month.

She accused him of raping and sexually molesting her multiple times, beginning in 2014 when she was a high school student in a report submitted to police.

Cho's lawyers have stated that he denies the allegations of sexual assault.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has publicly admitted his concern over the spate of sexual abuse allegations ©Getty Images
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has publicly admitted his concern over the spate of sexual abuse allegations ©Getty Images

Cho was sentenced to 10 months in prison in September for physically assaulting four skaters, including Shim, over a seven-year period from 2011 to 2018.

Further allegations have now been brought forward against other coaches, while a group called Solidarity for Young Skaters claimed five other skaters had suffered sexual abuse from coaches.

Shim's revelations have also triggered athletes from judo, taekwondo, football and wrestling to make similar allegations.

Politician Sohn Hye-won, who had stepped down from her role one day earlier over allegations of property speculation, had previously called for an investigation into former national team coach Jun Myung-kyu.

She said Jun had been accused of favouritism towards athletes and coaches, along with claims he had pressured victims in order to cover up offences alleged against coaches.

Jun, who denies wrongdoing, served as the vice-president of the Korea Skating Union from 2009 to 2014, before returning in 2017.

This came in the build-up to the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

He resigned in April last year as the South Korean Sports Ministry began an investigation into the organisation after bullying claims were made by Noh Seon-yeong against two team-mates.

President Moon Jae-in has also publicly admitted his concern regarding the wave of abuse allegations which were tarnishing South Korea's "bright image as a sports powerhouse".