Pyeongchang chosen to host Winter Games

South Koreans make it third time lucky as they beat Munich and Annecy in the race to host the Winter Olympics in 2018.

    Pyeongchang had missed out to Canada's Vancouver and Russia's Sochi in the last two bids [Reuters]

    South Koreans wept tears of joy - and relief - at winning the 2018 Olympics at their third attempt after a painful decade-long wait to stage Asia's third Winter Games and the first on the continent for 20 years.

    Pyeongchang of South Korea comprehensively won the right to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, beating Munich and Annecy in the first round of voting early on Thursday.

    The announcement by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge was third time lucky for the Koreans, who lost out to Vancouver in 2010 and the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi in 2014.

    It will be the first time a Korean city has staged the Winter Games and only the third time it will have been held in Asia.

    Japan held the games in Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998.

    "This is one of the best moments in my life," Cho Yang-ho, the Pyeongchang bid chief, said immediately after the announcement.

    "This is one of the happiest days for our country, our people and millions of youth dreaming of winter sport."
    The Pyeongchang delegation at the IOC session in Durban, South Africa, cheered and chanted after the win.

    "It feel likes the sky is falling. I feel so good right now, at last they are coming to Pyeongchang," said Dohyun Lee, a 20-year-old Korean-American from New Jersey.

    "Pyeongchang is the perfect place for the Olympics. Our country is expanding very quickly."

    In both previous attempts, the city in the north east of South Korea had led on the first round of voting by IOC members, but failed to gain an overall majority and lost out on the second round.
    On Wednesday they won outright in the first round.

    Sochi organisers were among the first to congratulate the South Koreans.

    "Like Sochi 2014, they offer an exciting 'New Horizon' for the Olympic Movement," Dmitry Chernyshenko, the Sochi 2014 chief,  said in a statement.

    "Together we'll take the power of Olympics to new territories. Pyeongchang will be an excellent host city and I look forward to working with them in the future."

    London hosts the next Olympic Games next year and British Olympic Association Chairman Colin Moynihan also dished out praise for Pyeongchang.

    "As the first Asian city outside of Japan to host the Winter Games, Pyeongchang will bring the excitement of the winter Olympics to a new audience," he said in a statement.


    The Koreans put in a determined bid, stressing virtues of perseverance and patience, and employed their country's President Lee Mying-bak and Olympic women's figure skating champion Kim Yuna to persuade and charm the IOC.

    Pyeongchang, whose slogan is "New Horizons", campaigned on the theme that it deserved to win on a third try and will spread the Olympics to a lucrative new market in Asia and become a hub for winter sports in the region.

    It marks a full decade of sport for South Korea, which hosts athletics' World Championships in Daegu in August and the Asian Games in Incheon in 2014 – although they missed out to Qatar for football's World Cup in 2022.

    Pyeongchang gained 63 IOC votes, Germany's Munich got 25 and Annecy in the French Alps gleaned just seven.

    Munich in particular had fought hard all the way believing that their professional and smooth campaign could deliver them a Sochi-style victory - the Russians had gathered unstoppable momentum to overhaul a stunned Pyeongchang for the 2014 tournament.

    However, despite the best efforts of German President Christian Wulff, East German figure skating legend Katarina Witt and impressive paralympian Verena Bentele, the dream was to be left unfulfilled.

    Annecy were never able to gather anything like enough momentum, and while they showed a solid outward resilience, their final presentation reflected well the downbeat mood of the camp.

    Despite the agony of its past failures, South Koreans have embraced the Pyeongchang bid with gusto, and winter sports, notably snowboarding, have thrived at the dozen or so resorts around the country.

    At the same time, the country has vaulted from winter sport's obscurity of a couple of decades ago to become one of the top medal winners at the Olympics, and now boasts one of the sport's glamour stars in figure skater Kim Yu-na.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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