The conflict between the city of Taebaek in Gangwon Province and the city sports council over the establishment of a sports foundation is deepening.

Despite the city’s hardline stance that it will boycott sports competitions if a sports foundation is established, the city has not changed its view that it will proceed with the establishment of the foundation as planned, including ordering a feasibility study in October.

The two sides have starkly differing views on the need for a sports foundation.The city’s sports federation argued that duplication of work with the existing sports federation would only lead to wasted budget, including labour costs.

“The work of the foundation can be done by the existing sports federation,” said Ryu Chul-ho, chairman of the city’s sports federation, “but I don’t know why they insist on establishing a foundation that will cost billions of won in additional taxpayer money, including hiring 25 to 30 additional employees.”

The city is of the view that a professional organisation is needed to foster the sports industry as an alternative industry in preparation for local disappearance, such as the closure of the Jangseong mine of Korea National Coal Corporation in 2024.

The city also has to take into account the reality of the local government tax penalty for holding sports events with local subsidies. The government penalises local governments that spend more than the local subsidy limit by reducing the grant tax. This year, the city received 4.1 billion won ($4.1 million) in grant tax penalties related to local subsidies.

“The government’s stance is to strengthen the control of local subsidy projects,” said a city official, explaining that “it is urgent to ‘change to a performing organisation project’ (establish a foundation) in the field of sports, which accounts for a large proportion of local subsidy projects.”

In 2023, the local subsidy for all sports events, including the city’s sports competitions, will be 5.9 billion won. This is 35% of the city’s total local subsidy budget of 16.8 billion won in the same period.

In response, Ryu Chul-ho, chairman of the city’s Sports Federation, said, “In a situation where the civic sports federation is actively engaged in attracting sports events, such as greatly expanding the number of sports events, the establishment of a foundation would be a return to the governing system.” “If they insist on establishing a foundation, we will have no choice but to respond strongly,” he said.

The Council of Sports Presidents of Provincial and Municipalities also expressed strong regret over the recent establishment of sports foundations by local governments and resolved to boycott competitions held in cities and counties with sports foundations.

“I am worried that the natural disaster will spread to foreign countries and damage the local 안전놀이터 sports industry, which has been nurtured for decades,” said Choi Mi-young, a member of the Taebaek City Council, on the 17th. “We need to think deeply about what is a realistic path for the region and gather wisdom.”

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