POSTED: February 16th 2011
InDepth

Gangneung leaves past behind as it looks forward to Olympic future

Gangneung: the city in the snow. Inset: Legacy of history / lake images
Gangneung: the city in the snow. Inset: Legacy of history / lake images

KEIR RADNEDGE in Gangneung / Sports Features Communications

GANGNEUNG, S Korea, Feb 16: Gangneung is to PyeongChang what Chamonix is to Annecy and what Garmisch-Partenkirchen is to Munich. That is, the essential partner in the 2018 Winter Games bid without the status of title role.

This city of 300,000 currently lies under not so much blanket of snow as a king-size duvet of the white stuff.

That, of course, cannot prevent bid and city officials from pointing out the various proposed venue sites: satellite Olympic Village and media centre, the skating, curling and ice hockey sites.

All this will be shown on Friday to the International Olympic Committee evaluation commission currently checking out the finer details of the PyeongChang bid ahead of the July 6 vote in Durban.

Coastal cluster

Gangneung is 30km to the east of PyeongChang and described as the ‘Coastal Cluster’ though, sadly, it is a living reminder that sport’s unique ability to break down barriers has yet to succeed here.

The border with North Korea is only 50 miles away and a Korean War Memorial and beach-side Unification Park – complete with decommissioned warship and captured North Korean submarine – splits the cliff-top thread of barbed wire.

South Korea has made enormous strides since the early 1990s, when this writer first visited the country ahead of its football World Cup bid. On that occasion one attempt was enough to secure co-hosting rights with Japan for 2002.

Thus far PyeongChang has failed twice in its Winter Games pursuit but officials appear to have learned the varying lessons. This, combined with the country’s remarkable commercial and social progress, has clearly breathed confidence but not complacency into the attempt to prove this latest campaign third time lucky.

Earlier this week, after their arrival, members of the IOC party took time out for some skiing on the slopes behind the Convention Centre. Happily, all emerged unscathed . . . just as PyeongChang hopes to do in the report they will be compiling for the IOC briefing in May.


Keywords · PyeongChang · Gangneung · 2018 Winter Olympics · IOC · evaluation commission


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