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KIMUNYONG COLUMN

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Date 17.02.06 Hit 359
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Tribute to Okano Shunichiro

Tribute to Okano Shunichiro

 

Mr. Okano Shunichiro, Japanese IOC member passed away of lung cancer at age of 85.

 

Mr. Okano has greatly contributed to development of Japanese sport and soccer and Olympic movement during Samaranch era which brought restoration of IOC and Golden age of sports.

 

I watched his Japanese Olympic soccer team's bronze medal match in Mexico Olympics in 1968 over TV while I was traveling in USA. Later I met him at NOC General Assembly in Abijuan, Ivory Coast in 1977. He and I were Secretary General of JOC and KOC. We had Chinese dinner together with Mr. Shibata and Lee Won-kyong(later Sports Minister) at a chinese Restaurant.

He was nominated to IOC member at Tokyo IOC Session just before Beijing Asian Games in 1990. Ever since, we were collegues and supporters in our joint effort through NOC, IOC and soccer. We trusted each other and consulted many issues frankly whenever need arose.

 

When I succeeded in adopting Taekwondo in Olympics, he flew to Seoul to join celebration Taekwondo Tournament. He helped successfully organize Joint Japan-Korea FIFA World Cup in 2002. I still remember his resolute and sublime personality when he was approached by an IOC member in Moscow to vote for certain candidate but his response was that you vote for whom you want but do not tell me how to vote. I vote for KIM.

 

He is a graduate of prestigious Tokyo University but has warm, humble, quiet, and composed personality, typical of Japanese gentleman. He strongly believes in value of sports to serve mankind.

 

He asked me for my advice and suggestion when Tokyo bid for Olympics. I was touched by his earnest and sincere approach, and I did my best to help him.

I and my wife will forever remember our dinner together at Tenichi Taempura Restaurant in Ginza, which he and his wife hosted before he got seriously ill.

As I bid farewell to great Olympian and my personal friend, I wish him eternal peace and rest on behalf of entire Olympic family in Korea.

 

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