UPDATE : 2018.9.22 SAT 05:13
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IOC President Bach receives honorary degree at nat'l sports university

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach on Tuesday received an honorary doctorate from South Korea's only national sports university.

Korea National Sport University (KNSU) conferred the doctoral degree in physical education on Bach in a ceremony at its Seoul campus, recognizing the German's role in the development of sports and his contribution to global peace through the Olympic Games. Bach, 63, has been leading the Olympic body since 2013.

Bach, a fencing gold medalist at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, is the second IOC chief to receive an honorary doctorate degree from KNSU. In 1988, the university bestowed such an honor on Juan Antonio Samaranch, who held the IOC's top job from 1980 to 2001.

Bach is visiting South Korea this week to attend the IOC's Executive Board meetings in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, the host of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Bach is scheduled to have a wrap-up press conference there on Friday.

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, speaks after receiving an honorary doctoral degree at Korea National Sport University in Seoul on March 14, 2017.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this week, KNSU is the only national sport university in South Korea and its alumni athletes have won 100 medals at the Olympic Games.

Among KNSU athletes on hand were epee fencer Park Sang-young and taekwondo practitioner Oh Hye-ri, both gold medalists at the 2016 Olympics.

After receiving his degree, Bach spoke of the importance of KNSU's role as the cradle of elite athletes.

"KNSU has played a central role in the promotion of sport and its values throughout the Republic of Korea," Bach said. "You've helped write Korean Olympic history. You can be proud of being a part of this important Olympic legacy. As an Olympian, I am truly honored to share this moment with the university that has produced so many Olympic champions."

Kim Seong-jo, president of KNSU, said he hopes his students will see Bach "as a role model."

"At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, he showed a great leadership and commitment as the president of the IOC," Kim said, "and will do so again at the next Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang."

Kim also said KNSU plans to set up the Center for Olympic Academy in Asia to document and archive records related to the Olympics.

"We hope that the IOC grants us the construction of this center so that KNSU, in support of the IOC and the national Olympic committee, can contribute to the spread of Olympic spirit in Asia through the right education," Kim added.

Thomas Bach (L), president of the International Olympic Committee, receives his honorary doctoral degree from Kim Seong-jo, president of Korea National Sport University, during a ceremony at the school's Seoul campus on March 14, 2017.

Sung Min Kim  edt@koreapost.com

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