Olympic joy at last for Pyeongchang and Asia


Pyeongchang finally achieved their dream of hosting the Winter Olympics when they were awarded the 2018 edition at their third attempt here on Wednesday. The South Korean candidate did it in style too as they needed just one round of voting by the 95 International Olympic Committee (IOC) members eligible to vote to secure only the third Winter Games for Asia. They garnered 63 votes to overwhelm their opponents – Munich got 25 and Annecy a derisory 7 – to win by a majority of 48 with all 95 members having cast their vote.
On the announcement from IOC president Jacques Rogge there was an eruption of joy from the South Korean delegation in the room while South Korean president Lee Myung-Bak walked along the stage where the IOC members sat and thanked them. “I will make a good Olympics,” beamed 69-year-old Lee, who put his thumbs up in celebration. “This is a victory for the Koreans, thank you to them!” For Kim Jin-Seun the former Governor of Gangwon Province – who had led the previous two bids and now an ambassador of the 2018 bid – it was a hugely emotional moment.
“For 17 years I have had a really rough road, really hard,” he said. “I don’t know what to say. I’m overwhelmed. I’m just very very happy.” Pyeongchang are the first candidate since the now tarnished Salt Lake City in 1995 (for the 2002 Winter Games) to win in the first round for any Olympic bid. For the South Korean candidate it was joy at last after the bitter disappointment of losing out to Vancouver for 2010 and the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi for the 2014 Games.
In doing so they delivered Asia their first ever Games outside of Japan and first since Nagano in 1998. It was a personal success too for South Korean president Lee as he achieved his goal he revealed earlier this week of it being “his duty and his mission to deliver the Games to Asia”.