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Korea to Finance ‘Unfamiliar’ Sports

The government said it will use taxpayer money to finance athletes in Olympic sports such as ice skating, hockey, boxing, judo, weightlifting and wrestling, which struggle commercially despite getting the spotlight during international events.

The list of 15 “non-popular” sports picked by policymakers also includes fencing, shooting, gymnastics, cycling, weightlifting and water sports such as canoeing and yachting. The 15 will share some 2.06 billion won (about $1.8 million) in government funds.

It is the first time the government will allocate part of its budget to directly support these struggling sports, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Non-student amateur athletes have so far relied on local government organizations, which are required to hire and train them under the sports promotion law, and corporate teams.

The governing bodies of each sport also get a cut from the sports promotion fund, which is generated from revenue from state-run lotteries.

“We have picked Olympic sports that lack a professional league and struggle from poor training and competing conditions, but in which we are still considered to have a real shot at winning medals,” a ministry official said.

(by By Kim Tong-hyung)