With South Korea reeling from the ouster of the president, the Winter Games to be held in the country next year will help unite the people here, the global Olympic chief said Tuesday.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said the Olympic Games have the power to bring people together, and the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, some 180 kilometers east of Seoul, will come at "an important moment" for South Korea.
"After the political differences that your country is going through now, the PyeongChang Olympic Games can unite the Koreans and make them proud again of their country, and of their athletes," Bach said after receiving an honorary doctoral degree at Korea National Sport University in Seoul.
Bach arrived in South Korea earlier Tuesday to preside over the IOC Executive Board meetings in PyeongChang this week. With its first Winter Olympics less than a year away, South Korea is going through a leadership vacuum.
Bach thanked the South Korean people and their government for their support, which he said is "going beyond all the political differences." "It shows once more how the Olympic Games can unite people," Bach added.
This is Bach's first visit to South Korea since last September. He said he has heard nothing but positive things about Pyeongchang's preparations.
"I believe in the Koreans and in Korea that they will host a very successful Olympic Winter Games, as they hosted a very successful Summer Olympic Games in 1988 in Seoul," Bach said.