Host City for Winter Olympics 2018 Announced
It seems that for Pyeongchang, the third time’s a charm.
The South Korean city, it was announced this morning, beat rival cities Munich and Annecy, a small commune in the South of French that has entered the major leagues of international sporting event hosting due to the Tour de France, in the bid to host the 23rd Winter Olympics in 2018.
This was the third time that Pyeongchang has filed a bid to host the Olympics; it will be the first Winter Olympics in Asia hosted outside of Japan, which hosted Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998. This will be the last time I refer to the Nagano Olympics in this article because I’m still rather upset about Tara Lipinski showing up out of nowhere and beating Michelle Kwan. Too soon.
The voting tallies from the session of the International Olympic Committee that made the decision today showed that Pyeongchang was a clear favorite. Of the 95 votes cast in the Committee’s first voting round, Pyeongchang received 63, with Munich receiving 25 and Annecy receiving only 7. It was by all accounts, a less contentious round of bidding that previous sessions, where cities can spend millions of dollars on bids that are heavily influenced by international and internal politics. The vote hasn’t been decided in a single round consisting of more than 2 finalists since Salt Lake City won the 2002 Winter Olympic bid, famously chaired by presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in 1995.
Host cities must bear most of the cost of the massive infrastructural development necessary to sustain such a large-scale event, but the economic explosion and cultural prestige attached to hosting balances that expenditure.
In recent years, it has become increasingly common for the International Olympic Committee, which has evolved to include more retired athletes in the past decade, to choose host cities that extend the global ambition of the Olympics. The first South American city, Rio de Janeiro was named host for the 2016 Summer Games and Russia will be hosting the Winter Games for the first time with Sochi hosting in 2014.
In the manner of pageantry that one might expect from the International Olympic Committee, the IOC President Jacques Rogge opened a sealed envelope and read the announcement that Pyeongchang’s bid had been successful. South Korea was previously beat out in the bids for the 2010 and 2014 games. It is rare that a country will invest the substantial money necessary for three successive attempts. Pyeongchang used its past failures in its bid, suggesting that now was the time for South Korea to shine. The theme of the campaign and the Olympics is “New Horizons”, and both center upon the fact that Asia is a lucrative and undertapped target for winter sporting, as the past Japanese Winter Olympics has proven.
I have not heard any expressed concern regarding the proximity of North Korea. North Korea has participated in most of the Olympics since the 1970s, and almost sent a joint delegation with South Korea for the 2008 Beijing games. Somehow, I’m not sure that things will go so smoothly with South Korea garnering major hosting attention. I’m really hoping that I can update this story later today with fun quotes from Kim Jong Il, as it seems almost inevitable that North Korea will have something to say. I would not be surprised to hear that a North Korean Olympics has been conveniently planned for Winter 2018 o’clock. I’m not really sure who would be competing in that. Maybe I am wrong, though, and this is going to be a major step forward in the Koreas finding peace. That would really be a remarkable legacy for the Olympics, and would perhaps be justifiable atonement for the lingering resentment surrounding the human rights violations in China that were highlighted and exacerbated during the 2008 Beijing Games.
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