POSTED: February 15th 2011
NewsUpdate

Korean President proves 'hands-on' as IOC starts work in PyeongChang

Yes, we can . . . President Lee shares the bobsleigh progress of youngsters attending the Dream Programme / lake images
Yes, we can . . . President Lee shares the bobsleigh progress of youngsters attending the Dream Programme / lake images

Perfect view . . . the tower above the Gangwon ski jump / lake images
Perfect view . . . the tower above the Gangwon ski jump / lake images

KEIR RADNEDGE in PyeongChang / Sports Features Communications

PYEONGCHANG, S Korea, Feb 15: Three times the South Korean winter sports centre of PyeongChang has bid to host the Winter Olympic Games. Twice their efforts have proved in vain - defeated by Vancouver for 2010 and by Sochi for 2014. Now the Koreans believe it should be third time lucky.

The evaluation commission of the International Olympic Committee which arrived in PyeongChang yesterday should need little introduction: eight of the team have been on previous evaluation studies.

But each time PyeongChang has had to up its game so that it is now generally considered to be favourite when the IOC votes in Durban on July 6. Simple analysis of the politics suggests that rivals Munich and revived Annecy may split a European vote already compromised by other cities' dreams of bidding for the 2020 summer Games.

In this context, the 2018 bid is PyeongChang's to lose so nothing is being left to chance and the determination to make the best possible impression has been evoked from the start of the inspection by a welcome from state President Lee Myung-bak.

Political support

President Lee did not merely fly in, shake hands and fly out again. He also took time for a brisk trip around the resort and a 'guest coaching' appearance to help teenage bobsleigh novices attending the Gangwon-backed international Dream Programme.

Later he met the commission members at an informal welcome reception during which he reaffirmed his own and his government's commitment to bring the Winter Games to Korea for the first time.

He also emphasised Korea's strong cross-party political support and stated that the Korean central government, the Gangwon provincial government and the PyeongChang municipal government have pledged to honour all required IOC guarantees.

This includes the funding of infrastructure development costs and confirmation that 100pc of the land for the proposed 2018 Winter Games venues is secured.

Also attending the reception were senior members of the bid committee, including chairman and ceo Yang Ho Cho, Korean IOC members Kun Hee Lee and Dae Sung Moon, Parliamentary members, mayors of venue cities PyeongChang and Gangneung, KOC president Yong Sung Park and Korean athletes including Vancouver 2010 speed skating gold medallists Tae-Bum Mo and Sang-Hwa Lee.

For all the preparation and the political support, a little good fortune is also appreciated. PyeongChang saw that by sharing in some of the heaviest snowfalls recorded in South Korea for more than a century.

Gunilla Lindberg and her evaluation commission enjoyed excellent sunny, dry weather in which to tour Annecy last week; but this week they have a Winter Games venue looking like . . . a Winter Games venue.


Keywords · 2018 Winter Olympics · IOC · evaluation commission · President Lee · PyeongChang


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