PyeongChang makes dream come true

12월 27, 2011 at 8:19 오전
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By Yi Whan-woo

Finally, at last.

PyeongChang, a city with about 40,000 residents, saw its decade-long efforts pay off Wednesday.

In the largely two-way race between PyeongChang and Munich, Germany, the city in Gangwon Province tasted the fullness of victory in its third consecutive bid for the Winter Olympics.

PyeongChang’s quest to become a Winter Games host began in 2001.

On its maiden quest for the 2010 Games, the city had the support of the then-North Korean member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Chang Woong. The South Korean candidate competed with Vancouver of Canada and Salzburg of Austria. The city had to overcome a low level of recognition compared to the other two cities. For instance, foreign media often confused PyeongChang with Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.

In a closed-door election on July 2, 2003, PyeongChang won the first round, but had to re-compete with second-placed Vancouver in the second and final round, ending up with a loss. The IOC regulates a candidate winning more than half of the votes to be chosen as the host, if otherwise, the two top bidders go to the following round with the winner being the one with the most votes.

Speculation arose that IOC members from Europe threw their support behind Vancouver over PyeongChang. One of the reasons was that Beijing was to host the 2008 Summer Games, which would make Asia stage both the Summer and Winter Olympics consecutively.

The Gangwon city then decided in March 2005 to make its second attempt for the 2014 Games. A challenge within the country arose this time, as Muju, town in North Jeolla Province, claimed it had the right as a candidate based on an agreement with the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) signed in 2002.

The matter with Muju was settled and PyeongChang went into the race with Salzburg and Sochi of Russia. The loss to Sochi in July 2007 reminded the South Korean bidder of its attempt four years previously. In the vote that took place in Guatemala City, PyeongChang won the first round, but fell to its opponent in the second round by four votes. Sochi was awarded the 2014 Games with 51 votes, while PyeongChang received 47.

PyeongChang’s quest did not end there; in August 2009, it decided to make a third attempt.

After receiving some criticism, the content of PyeongChang’s bid began to improve. South Korea showed prowess in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games where Kim Yu-na won the nation’s first-ever Olympic champion title in figure skating. The country’s young speed skaters also proved their world-class strength with three golds.

Kim’s recognition on the world stage boosted the nation’s third bid with IOC members showering favors on the champion when she stepped up as an honorary ambassador for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games Bid Committee.

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