SEOUL (Reuters) - Cho Yang-ho has stepped down as head of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics organizing committee in order to focus on his troubled Hanjin Shipping business, POCOG announced on Tuesday.
Hanjin Shipping , South Korea's largest shipper by assets, is facing severe financial difficulties and Cho needed to focus his efforts on restructuring and stabilizing the company, POCOG said in a statement.
Cho is the chairman of the Hanjin conglomerate, which also controls the nation's flag carrier Korean Air, a corporate sponsor of the 2018 Games.
Cho, who took over in Aug. 2014, has been credited with bringing sponsors on board and giving stalled preparations for the Games a shot in the arm.
“For the past two years, I have truly put forward my very best efforts to work with every member of the organizing committee to prepare a successful Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2018,” he said.
"I give my assurances that I will continue to support Pyeongchang through to the Games in 2018.”
Late last month, Hanjin Shipping said it would ask creditor banks to restructure its debt. It had debt of 5.6 trillion won ($4.92 billion) and a debt-to-equity ratio of nearly 850 percent as at the end of 2015, according to the company.
(Reporting by Nataly Pak and Jee Heun Kahng; Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by Ian Ransom)