Third Time Is a Charm for PyeongChang

Korean city clinches hosting rights for 2018 Winter Olympics in its 3rd bid; nation previously hosted three major global sports events including the Summer Olympics, World Cup and IAAF World Championships









"It's PyeongChang," declared IOC President Jacques Rogge in announcing the IOC vote on July 6 during the IOC general conference in Durban, South Africa, to decide on the host of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The announcement shocked the world as the major wire news services and newspapers around the world at the press conference dispatched the news to their home countries immediately following the announcement. For one, PyeongChang, a remote town in the middle of a rugged, mountainous area of Gangwon Province in Korea with a population of just 40,000, is hardly known globally, let alone many Koreans, since the town is so removed from major urban centers of Korea.
The small Korean town beat Germany's Munich and France's Annecy in the IOC vote to be chosen as the host of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The South Korean bidder won an overwhelming 63 votes out of the 95 cast in the first round of voting. Munich got 25 votes and Annecy of France received seven.
IOC President Jacques Rogge's announcement that the committee had awarded the hosting right to PyeongChang sparked scenes of wild celebration by Korean delegates in Durban as well as the people at the Alpensia Resort in Gangwon Province, which will be the main venue for the Games.
This will be the third Winter Olympics to be held in Asia, with Korea being the second Asian country to host them after the two held in Japan -- Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998.
It was PyeongChang's third successive bid after it lost narrowly to Canada's Vancouver for the 2010 Games and then to Russia's Sochi for 2014.
Korea's delegates said they will set up an organizing committee for the 2018 Olympics and pick a chairman as early as possible to ensure smooth preparations. One of PyeongChang's main selling points was its increasing role in the development of winter sports infrastructure in Asia and nurturing athletes worldwide, according to Korea's bid committee.
Since 2004, PyeongChang has made efforts to promote winter sports worldwide through its "Dream Program," designed to give children from countries with no snowfall an opportunity to learn and enjoy winter sports in Korea. The program was one of its bid pledges for the 2010 Olympics. More than 800 youngsters from some 40 different countries have benefited from it, experiencing winter sports such as alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, speed skating and short-track speed skating.
At its final presentation to IOC members, which took place five hours before the vote at the International Convention Center, President Lee Myung-bak called for support for PyeongChang, saying hosting the Olympics has been a national priority of the government for the past 10 years.
"I guarantee you the full and unconditional support of the Korean government for every commitment in our 2018 Games bid," Lee said in a speech in English.
PyeongChang's slogan "New Horizons" represented its resolve to become a hub of Asian winter sports by helping build related infrastructure among Asian countries.
South Korea has invested more than $1.5 billion to build facilities in and around PyeongChang, which has a population of about 40,000. The central government has promised an additional $1.53 billion to upgrade railways and other infrastructure there. At the heart of PyeongChang's bid for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is the desire to connect winter sports with a young, dynamic and growing population in Asia, and help extend the reach of Olympic ideals to millions of new hearts and minds across the continent, Korea's bid committee chief Cho Yang-ho said.
We can help create a new market for winter sports in Asia, home to 60 percent of the world's population, and offer incredible opportunities for winter sports to grow and thrive. Korea's successful bid was the result of the hard work and joint efforts of Chairman Cho; Korean Olympic Committee Chairman Park Yong-sung; Vancouver Olympics figure-skating gold medalist Kim Yu-na; President Lee; IOC member Lee Kun-hee, who is also chairman of Samsung Group; and other delegates. After arriving in Durban, Lee held a series of private meetings with IOC members to appeal for support for PyeongChang.
Whenever he met with foreign leaders at home or abroad, Lee asked for their support, presidential spokesman Park Jeong-ha told reporters. Last month, he called IOC members in person to seek their support and sent a personal letter to each of them. Most of all, the unwavering support from Gangwon residents was the main driving force behind the city's two-year-long bidding battle for the 2018 Winter Games.
Despite the two previous failed bids, they showed full-fledged support for PyeongChang and did all they could do to impress IOC members, Gangwon Province Governor Choi Moon-soon said. The PyeongChang Winter Olympics will bring some 54 trillion won worth of economic benefits to the city and Korea in general, according to the Hyundai Economic Research Institute. It will boost the reputation of Korea as a strong sports nation, having hosted all four major global events.
In breaking down the economic benefits by sector, the institute said some 21 trillion won would come from building sports facilities and from the spending of spectators; some 7.3 trillion won from the construction of support facilities such as roads and game arenas; and other economic effects worth 16.5 trillion won during the 16-day event. nw

A view of the jubilant Korean delegation including President Lee Myung-bak, Chairman Lee Kun-hee, Chairman Park Yong-song of the Korea Olympic Committee and Chairman Cho Yang-ho following the IOC announcement on July 6 giving the hosting rights for the 2018 Winter Olympics to PyeongChang in Durban, South Africa.

President Lee Myung-bak and other members of a Korean delegation which participated in the IOC general conference in Durban, South Africa, on July 6, get together at Cheong Wa Dae for an event celebrating PyeongChang's winning of the hosting rights for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Seen at front row is Rep. Yoon Seok-yong of the Grand National Party, ex-chairman of the Korean Paralympic Committee, who is in a wheelchair.

Photos on Courtesy of the MCST

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