Lee Kee-heung has been re-elected KSOC President ©Getty Images

Lee Kee-heung has been re-elected for a second term as Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC) President, with his victory enabling him to retain his position as an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member.

The KSOC said 2,170 voters were eligible to participate in the election, with a reported 1,974 ultimately cast by member federations and sport associations.

Lee received a total of 915 votes to secure a second four-year term in the post.

Kang Shin-wook, a university professor and former head of the Korean Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, finished second with 507 votes.

Former Korea Basketball Association head Lee Jong-kul was third with 423, while Korea Sailing Federation President Yoo Joon-sang placed fourth on 129.

According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, Lee’s three opponents had initially attempted to unify to oust the incumbent official but failed to combine their efforts and ultimately split the vote.

Lee had been permitted to stand for a second term without risking his IOC membership, after amendments to election rules by South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Under the KSOC statutes, Lee would have needed to resign 90 days prior to the upcoming KSOC Presidential election if he were to seek a second term.

Changes allowed Lee to temporarily stand down during the election campaign, rather than resigning outright.

The changes were approved as part of an "election fairness plan."

Lee Kee-heung will remain an IOC member following his election victory ©IOC
Lee Kee-heung will remain an IOC member following his election victory ©IOC

The election campaign proved controversial, with Lee Kee-heung and Lee Jong-kul clashing during a debate.

Lee Jong-kul accused the incumbent KSOC President of embezzlement and abuse of authority, including allegations he had hired family members and concealed their salaries.

Lee Kee-heung rejected the claims and accused his rival of defamation of character.

Both officials filed complaints to the police, according to Yonhap News.

Kang had also claimed the other candidates had tried to force him to quit the election race.

A second debate did not take place after agreement could not be reached with all four candidates.

The initial debate had seen discussion over the elimination of abuse in sport, promoting sports participation and ensuring more financial independence for the KSOC.

The KSOC has faced the prospect of being split into two entities by the South Korean Government, leading to the IOC warning of potential Government interference.

Should the Government fail to heed the warnings, the KSOC could face suspension from the IOC.

A South Korean Government Committee in 2019 recommended the KSOC be divided into two entities – one functioning as the NOC and the other overseeing sports for all – amid abuse scandals and allegations of corruption.

Lee, following his re-election, said he hoped to find a reasonable solution with the South Korean Government.

Lee Kee-heung has led the KSOC since 2016 ©Getty Images
Lee Kee-heung has led the KSOC since 2016 ©Getty Images

"I have never fought with the Government, there are only differences," Lee told News1 Korea.

"Disagreements should be discussed sufficiently to find a reasonable solution.

"It has been four years since the Korea Sports Association and KOC were integrated.

"I opposed it four years ago, but incorporated it into law.

"Now it must also be approved by the IOC, it won't be easy.

"If you have a problem, you have to find a solution even if it takes time through conversation."

The KSOC has faced criticism over its handling of abuse allegations within South Korean sport.

This was highlighted after triathlete Choi Suk-hyeon took her own life in July after alleging she had endured years of physical and verbal abuse from her coaching staff.

The KSOC, which upheld bans given to an athlete and a coach following Choi's death, has been criticised by the Sports Ministry for its handling of the abuse claims.

Former national speed skating coach Cho Jae-beom was also jailed in September 2018, after being found guilty of physically assaulting four athletes between 2011 and 2018.

He was last year indicted on charges of sexually assaulting and molesting double Olympic gold medallist Shim Suk-hee, with prosecutors reportedly seeking a 20-year prison sentence.

Lee has been President of the KSOC since 2016.

He was previously President of the Korean Canoe Federation from 2004 to 2009 and vice-president of the Asian Canoe Confederation in 2007.

Lee was then President of the Korea Swimming Federation (KSF) from 2010 to 2016 and vice-president of the Asia Swimming Federation between 2012 and 2016. 

He stood down as head of the KSF shortly before being elected President of the KSOC following allegations at the governing body of bribery, embezzlement and fraud in national team member selection.

Lee was South Korea's Chef de Mission at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou and the 2012 Olympics in London.