© Copyright – 2018 – Athletics Illustrated

Does the International Olympic Committee and President Thomas Bach have a moral compass to guide them through the murky waters of international sport and sponsorship? It doesn’t appear so after signing a global sponsorship agreement with Jay Y. Lee convicted criminal and head of Samsung.

The IOC has continued their partnership with Samsung through to the year 2028 – the year of the Los Angeles Olympics. Bach continues the relationship despite Samsung’s chairman Lee Kun-Yee being convicted and jailed for bribery and other crimes.

In 2008, Korean police raided Lee’s home and office after a long investigation into accusations of bribing prosecutors, judges, and politicians.

He admitted two years later, “I am responsible for everything. I will assume full moral and legal responsibility.” The court fined him $98 million USD and sentenced him to three years in jail. Months later, South Korean president Lee Myung-bak pardoned Lee so he could remain on the IOC, which explains the investment – nepotism.

In 2010, former chief legal counsel, Kim Yong-chul, wrote a tell-all book called Think Samsung. It revealed allegations of Lee Kun-hee’s personal corruption. The claims that he pilfered up to $9 billion USD from Samsung subsidiaries, destroyed evidence and bribed politicians to ensure that his son could take over the company.

For what it is worth, Lee was reluctant to renew the global sponsorship agreement in light of his criminal father’s failing health and his own term in jail for bribery – shades of the Diack family, who ran the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Father Lamine was president before Lord Sebastian Coe took over and son, Papa Massata, was in charge of marketing – they have both been convicted of similar crimes.

Perhaps Lee has a moral compass, but someone somewhere must have talked him into it.

Named in the media as the “trial of the century,” Lee’s case gripped South Korea for months. It was part of a massive influence-peddling scandal that brought down the government of former President Park Geun-hye.

There were convictions for embezzlement, perjury and of hiding assets overseas.

Regardless of the perpetual white collar criminality associated with the company, the IOC continues their international sponsorship agreement with Samsung. With the agreement, Samsung will continue its support of the International Paralympic Committee as well as the Youth Olympic Games.

Through a release, the IOC said, “We will work to further develop their strategic digital collaboration to engage young generations around the world.”

They didn’t mention not bribing, embezzling or influence peddling.

The announcement took place in Seoul, Korea between Samsung vice-chairman Lee and IOC president Bach.

“I am delighted that we will be building on two decades of partnership with Samsung for another 10 years,” said Bach.

Samsung will supply athletes with phones as they are training and competing under their national sporting organization.