POSTED: February 16th 2010

PyeongChang offers IOC stark choice in chasing Games for third time

Governor Jin Sun Kim stressed financial stability / Image: PyeongChang 2018
Governor Jin Sun Kim stressed financial stability / Image: PyeongChang 2018

Bid ceo Yang Ho Cho noted that 90 per cent of Koreans are behind the bid / Image: PyeongChang 2018
Bid ceo Yang Ho Cho noted that 90 per cent of Koreans are behind the bid / Image: PyeongChang 2018

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

VANCOUVER, Feb 17: PyeongChang’s bid is different. Very different. Firstly, the Koreans are back for a third time. Neither Annecy nor Munich, their rivals in the hunt to find 2018 Winter Games favour, can demonstrate such commitment to the cause or, presumably, so many bidding lessons learned.

Secondly, and perhaps more important when it comes to IOC decision time in Durban next July, PyeongChang is not European. Not only is the competition solely European but so is the next winter Olympic Games, in Russian Sochi in 2014.

Hence, the context and thrust of the PyeongChang campaign is in stark contrast to the historic, old-world security proclaimed by Annecy and Munich – so geographically close they could almost wave to each other from the tops of their mountains on a clear day.

PyeongChang represents a new growth area for winter sports. As bid ceo Yang Ho Cho underlined: “Interest in Asia in winter sports is growing fast. Every year more and more tourists visit Korea to enjoy the facilities. This region will become Asia’s new winter sports centre.

“We have long dreamed of hosting the Winter Games and now the will of the government is making this a possibility by fully supporting our effort. Also, more than 90 per cent of Koreans support this bid – that means 45m people – and such popular support is one of our great strengths when combined with the most compact and efficient of plans.

“This is the right time, the right place and right now.”

Previous failures

Governor Jin Sun Kim acknowledged “we have had our disappointments in the past” but sought to assure a Vancouver press conference about the hosting guarantees offered by a $1.5bn investment in infrastucture.

All venues, he said, would be within 30 minutes of each other courtesy of an integrated transport system. He then swept up two of the IOC’s pet issues – youth and legacy – in one sentence, saying: “Our sincere commitment for the next generation is being shown.”

Kim So Hee, the former Olympic gold medal-winning speedskater, went even further in proclaiming the transport wonders to come, promising boldly that 90 per cent of the athletes would be able to reach their competition venues “within five to 10 minutes.”

Of course, the bidding campaign will open up the Koreans to more delicate questions such as relations with the North and the status of  pardoned, reinstated IOC member Kun Hee Lee. These will demand more expansive responses than Yang Ho Cho’s circuitive, preferred: “We are moving forward.”

For the moment, however, that was sufficient to register that PyeongChang’s bid is not only moving forward . . . but along a diametrically opposite path to its rivals.

Keywords · PyeongChang · 2018 Winter Olympics · IOC · Durban

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