After two lamentable defeats in a decade of trying, the South Korean city of PyeongChang finally won its Olympic prize, burying two European rivals in a landslide vote for the 2018 Winter Games and bringing them back to the lucrative Asian market. “This is one of the happiest days for our country, our people and millions of youth dreaming of winter sport,” said PyeongChang bid Chief Cho Yang-ho.
The Koreans lost narrowly in the final round of voting for the 2010 and 2014 Games, but this time they defeated Munich and Annecy, France, by a one-sided margin that few had expected. The status of Korea and the rest of Asia in winter sports have developed comparatively and are still weak due to a smaller winter sports population, lack of facilities to enjoy a variety of winter sports and a short history of them. However, the potential of Asia, with its 4 billion people, is boundless. The 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang may prove to be a great opportunity to boost winter sports in Asia and add a significant impetus to assist PyeongChang as the hub of winter sports in Asia.
Moreover, hosting the 2014 Olympic Winter Games at PyeongChang holds a significant symbolic meaning and a possibility of bringing an end to Cold War rivalries and contributing to reconciliation in the divided peninsula, as it did in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, fulfilling the Olympic ideals of peace and harmony.
There were three core reasons as to why PyeongChang stood out amongst the other candidates: the potential to grow winter sports across Asia, a compact and efficient Games Plan, and a trusted partnership that has kept its former promises made to the IOC.
Prominently, PyeongChang has shown the potential to grow winter sports across Asia – a new, young and growing market – connecting Olympic winter sports with millions of new, young hearts and minds. Annually 1.5 million tourists visit Korea to enjoy winter sports, and that number continues to increase. Winter sports are becoming more popular among the one billion Asian people living within a two-hour flight distance of PyeongChang, which is emerging as a winter sports hub in Asia. Additionally PyeongChang offered the most compact and efficient games plan, with new, state-ofthe-art, competition-tested venues.
PyeongChang Games Plan has two clusters – the Alpensia Cluster (snow events) and the Coastal Cluster (ice events). All competition venues will be accessible within 30 minutes of each other and 90 percent of athletes can reach their venues within 5 to 10 minutes. This will ensure ideal competitive conditions for the athletes and comfortable, quick and safe access for the Olympic Family, media and winter sports fans from around the world.
Lastly PyeongChang has kept the promises to the IOC: it has delivered on commitments, built new infrastructure and new venues. The Alpensia Resort – which will be center stage for the 2018 Games – has already opened and seven of the proposed 13 competition venues are already developed. PyeongChang has staged the annual ‘Dream Program’ since 2004 to provide a winter sports experience to future athletes from countries where there is no winter sports season. In total, 806 future athletes from 42 countries around the world have been invited to the Dream Program and 12 of them have gone on to compete in international competitions for their country.
Ever since the launch of the PyeongChang committee, support from the South Korean people has been very high -- over 91 percent -- and all levels of government support the bid as a “national priority.”
PyeongChang is nestled in Gangwon province, a region blessed with valuable ecological infrastructure and a stunning natural environment. Eighty-four percent of PyeongChang’s territory is comprised of high mountains with average elevations of 750 m, ideal for mountain-based winter sports. PyeongChang really comes to life during its long winters, where the abundant snowfalls transform the city into a stunning wonderland of snow-white beauty.
Surrounded by the Taebaek Mountains in the east, the Charyeong Mountains in the southwest, and Mt. Odae and Mt. Gyebang in the north, PyeongChang is ideally situated to be a perfect winter playground. Average altitude is over 600 meters above sea level, with more than 100 surrounding peaks towering over the city at greater than 1,000 meters. Located on an inland highland, PyeongChang’s continental climate provides an average annual snowfall of 250 centimeters.
Besides its natural beauty, PyeongChang truly pursues an eco-city status, enjoying air and water quality levels that surpass international standards. To preserve such superb natural environs, PyeongChang and the venue cities have been developing environmental infrastructure expansion projects aimed at conserving grade-1 water resources, vitalizing ecosystems, improving biodiversity, and recycling waste materials as energy resources. These efforts have led to PyeongChang being designated a ‘LowCarbon Green Growth Model City’ by the National Government.
Furthermore, all venues used for the 2018 Games will be “Green”, playing a huge role in Korea’s promise to fully deliver on an environmentally sustainable Winter Games. All new competition and non-competition venues to be built for the Winter Games will obtain certification in adherence with the building laws of the Green Building Certification Program, adopted by Korea in 2006, while existing venues will be upgraded to low-carbon eco-friendly facilities that utilize renewable energy, reuse rainwater and wastewater, and adopt natural lighting systems. Ultimately the city will carry out four major environmental projects that have as their respective goals: controlling and neutralizing greenhouse gas emissions; achieving zero discharge (through the reuse, reduction and recycling of waste materials); maintaining water quality levels at the ideal level; and restoring and improving the city’s overall ecosystem.
Last but not least, culture abounds in PyeongChang, where visitors will discover the wonderfully ornate architecture of Korea’s sacred temples and the historic cultural artifacts housed within them. Art is also on display throughout PyeongChang, where creative spaces and outdoor theatres present the beautiful paintings, calligraphy, plays and exhibitions of the area’s artists.
With passion, determination, and possession of world-class facilities, PyeongChang will work diligently to meet and surpass the standards of IOC’s vision and the Olympic Movement throughout Korea and around the world. PyeongChang’s 2018 Winter Olympics will offer something truly exceptional for the winter that has never been seen before.
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