October 02, 2014 13:18
The organizing committee of the 2014 Asian Games on Wednesday defended itself amid controversy over its management of the quadrennial sporting event, including the choice of acting star Lee Young-ae as the final torch bearer for the opening ceremony.
Many critics said the opening ceremony was reminiscent of a K-pop extravaganza rather than a sporting event due to the focus on actors and singers.
"We could have thought about a legendary sports star, but in view of the fact that [Korean pop culture] is a great asset to the country, we made the decision to name Lee, a pioneer of Korean Wave, as the final torch bearer," the committee said in a statement at a press conference.
"We intended to put more focus on young sports talents instead of Lee, but due to lack of direction, the spotlight was on Lee," the committee added.
The choice caused an outcry from many who felt there was no good reason to pick someone so totally unrelated to the world of sport.
The closing ceremony starts at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Boy band Big Bang will perform.
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