Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pyeongchang Olympic Win Bad News for Dokdo

Pyeongchang, the sole remaining Korean bidder, has been correctly chosen to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, garnering an overwhelming - but still disappointingly non-unanimous - 63 votes out of 95 cast in the first round of voting by IOC committee members. The victory came despite a last-minute emotional appeal from the female head of the German bid. But international superstar Kim Yu-na had traveled to the vote, virtually guaranteeing victory for Korea.

A crowd, assembled at the base of Pyeongchang's giant ski jump - where the opening ceremony will take place in February 2018 - spontaneously reacted with screams of "Daehan Minjok!" - Korea's full official title and staple Korean sports chant. Many people burst into tears of joy at the world's endorsement of their nation. With the win, Korea has taken the unprecedented and historic step of becoming the first nation in the world to be chosen to host five major international sporting events: the Summer Olympics, the Winter Olympics, the FIFA World Cup, the IAAF Athletic Championships and the StarCraft E-Sports World Cup.

All scheduled television programming will be suspended today, to be replaced with news of Korea’s great victory, and analysis of the dubious circumstances surrounding the 32 Olympic Committee members who did not vote for the obviously superior winning bid. KBS said they will run the decision announcement on a loop today until midnight, when normal programming will resume.

It was third time lucky for Pyeongchang, which had bid twice for the Games twice before. In its first two bids, organizers dwelt on the theme that Korea is a divided nation still technically at war, and that hosting the Olympics would almost certainly mean that North Korea would not attack for two weeks during the event, a major bonus for world peace - a central tenet of the Olympics movement. Some Olympic Committee members had described the accompanying campaign videos, which featured horrific scenes from the Korean War as 'thought-provoking', but they ultimately failed to alleviate concerns over how the games would be organized.

This time Pyeongchang decided not to market itself as a potential war-zone, and instead emphasized it's "Dream Program", where young athletes from poor countries are briefly invited to visit Korea to experience its advanced infrastructure, before being sent home again. The city of 40,000 said it now intends to become a Winter Sports Hub for affluent people from Asia - which is home to 60 percent of the world's population. IOC members were also said to have been attracted by the close proximity of the city's two main venue clusters, which should mean that athletes and organizers can move from venue to venue in no more than 30 minutes, 20 if the local barber shops are closed.

69 year-old President Lee Myung-bak had traveled to the vote in person. "I guarantee you the full and unconditional support of the Korean government for every commitment in our 2018 Games bid." said Lee in a speech to the Committee before the decision was made. Under constitutional amendments, the Japanese-born President still intends to be in power when the Winter Olympics come to Korea. Pyeongchang had already promised that the bid would be the best that money could buy.

Despite recent corruption scandals that have severely damaged the Korean construction industry, work will now begin on building the infrastructure promised as part of the bid, including a network of love hotels to house athletes and journalists. The "Love Village" was seen as important aspect of Pyeongchang's successful bid, and organizers are making its construction their top priority.

Dokdo had originally campaigned for the 2018 Winter Games, but eventually withdrew to allow Pyeongchang to field a unified Korean bid. Dokdo Metropolitan Council then formed a joint bid with Busan for the 2020 Summer Olympics, but after Pyeongchang's victory it is feared that the Busan-Dokdo bid is now unlikely to go ahead in the foreseeable future, as memories of Pyeongchang and Korea will still be fresh in people's minds for some time after the games.

The Pyeongchang bid had 87 percent support from the Korean public to host the Winter Games, with the remaining 13 percent - residents of Busan and Dokdo - hoping that an unsuccessful bid would guarantee their victory for 2020. While all Koreans - even the ones from Busan - were happy that the Games were coming to the country, the mood this morning in Dokdo City, home to over 21,000 Koreans, was subdued.

Related Links
At last! Pyeongchang gets Winter Games
Korea to host 'Big 4' global sporting events
Dream Program
Kim Yu-na Turns Heads, Sways Voters in Durban
World: Europe Olympic 'vote buying' scandal
(514) Daehan-minguk
2020 Summer Olympics
2020 Busan-Dokdo Summer Olympic Bid
Jeonju Woman With Drivers License Made President of Korea's Olympic Bid Committee
Soured construction loans threaten banks
F1 accommodation in the news
Brothels Used As Hotels For Korean Grand Prix

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