Friday, July 08, 2011

Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang!

Oh great, 8 hours of time difference, perfect. But I'm happy too^^
From JoongAng Daily:

People across Korea were delighted at the news that the International Olympic Committee had chosen Pyeongchang in Gangwon province as the host of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

But nowhere were the celebrations as intense as in Pyeongchang itself and across Gangwon, which was almost instantly festooned with over 100 congratulatory banners.

To watch the announcement broadcast live from Durban, South Africa, 7,000 Gangwon residents gathered at four venues, fraught with suspense. At 12:18 a.m. yesterday, IOC President Jacques Rogge held up a card bearing the words “Pyeongchang 2018,” and pandemonium broke loose.

“The tearful efforts of the past 11 years made this success, along with robust support from all Koreans,” said Kim Seung-hwan, 57, leader of a local community called “Dongsamo,”which is an acronym for the Korean words “People who love winter sports.” Kim had special reason to be happy: he travelled to Guatemala in 2007 for the announcement of the 2014 Winter Games host, when Pyeongchang lost out to Sochi, Russia. “Now it’s time to concentrate all over again on holding the games successfully,” he said.

Park Bun-ja, 49, the owner of a local restaurant said, “I phoned with my husband who is now in Durban, cheering for Pyeongchang. I won’t forget this happiness forever.”

Crying over the victory, Kim Mi-yeong, 32, a housewife from Jeongseon said, “The dream, which we once were skeptical of, has been realized. I am proud of being a citizen of Gangwon and Korea.”

“I think Pyeongchang has the opportunity to become a center of winter sports worldwide,” said Lee Won-jong, 29, a fire fighter from Pyeongchang. “I hope hosting the Olympics will give a boost to the depressed local economy and our high unemployment rate.”

An association representing the Daegwallyeong Mountain region, where the Games will take place, held a party for 200 residents until around 4 a.m. with pork dishes and drinks. The association said it will hold an even larger celebration on Sunday afternoon, at which it will be slaughtering five pigs.

“I received numerous phone calls from Chinese officials congratulating us on our victory,” Yeom Don-seol, leader of the association said. “We will put all our efforts into hosting the Olympics so as not to disappoint public expectations.”

To celebrate the victory, local resort Yongpyong Resort in Pyeongchang yesterday offered 2,018 free ski-lift rides. Pheonix Park in Pyeongchang also offered 10,000 won ($9.40) discount coupons for admission to all visitors. Hanhwa Resort also halved many of its charges, such as for karaoke, for a week.

Local restaurants in Pyeongchang County offered free dishes to rejoicing residents. Gihwa Restaurant will offer free fried trout, its specialty, for all customers until Saturday. Fifteen buckwheat noodle restaurants in Bongpyeong-myeon cut 1,000 won from their normal prices for one day.

“I planned this event to share the joy with people,” said Ok Ok-im, 50, owner of a Korean beef restaurant in Pyeongchang. She offered free bulgogi to 600 people yesterday.

In Gangneung, a coastal city in Gangwon, about 40 shops and restaurants offered discounts of up to 100 percent. The Ojikheon & Gangneung Municipal Museum will have free admission until July 17.

“I appreciate all IOC members for supporting Pyeongchang,” Lee Kun-hee, IOC member and Samsung Electronics chairman, said in a statement. “The reason why Pyeongchang won the bid is because of the desire of all Koreans.”

The Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Bid Committee members will return to Korea today.

By Kim Hee-jin, Lee Chan-ho []

At last! Pyeongchang gets Winter Games

Twelve years of hopes, dreams and toil were rewarded last night when Pyeongchang was chosen to host the 2018 Winter Olympics after failing in two earlier bids.

It beat out Munich and Annecy, France, in the first round of voting at the 123rd International Olympic Committee General Assembly in Durban, South Africa.

Koreans held their breath as IOC president Jacques Rogge mounted the stage at the International Convention Center, and when he announced the name of the small town in Gangwon, an entire nation cheered.

President Lee Myung-bak, who was in Durban to push the bid, shook hands with Korea’s committee after the announcement.

A crowd assembled at the base of Pyeongchang’s giant ski jump, where the opening ceremony will take place in February 2018, roared with excitement, and many people burst into tears of joy.

Pyeongchang was widely considered the front runner throughout the competition, but Munich put on a final spurt of sports diplomacy with an emotional appeal from bid head Katarina Witt, former two-time Olympic figure skating champion.

Ninety-five IOC members took part in the vote, and Pyeongchang received 63 votes, followed by Munich with 25 and Annecy with seven. 
In 2003, Pyeongchang received 51 votes in the first round of voting to choose the host of the 2010 Winter Games, edging out Vancouver, Canada, with 40 and Salzburg, Austria, with 16. However, the Korean bid lost to Vancouver 56-53 in the following round.

The same misfortunes occurred in the IOC’s 2007 decision on the 2014 Winter Olympics. Pyeongchang led the first round with 36 votes, followed by Sochi, Russia, with 34 and Salzburg with 25. But in the second round, Sochi won 51-47.

This time it was different. Pyeongchang blew away its two previous failures by winning in the first round.

With the win, Korea is now the fifth nation in the world chosen to host four major international sporting events: the Summer Olympics, the Winter Olympics, the FIFA World Cup and the IAAF Athletic Championships.

Previously, only four nations France, Germany, Italy and Japan ? had hosted all four events.

Korea held the Summer Olympics in 1988 and then co-hosted the World Cup in 2002 with Japan. This August, the IAAF Athletic Championships is coming to the city of Daegu.

Sports pundits say that by hosting the Winter Games, which need solid infrastructure and stable economic support, Korea has stepped up as a strong sports nation in the world. It is also meaningful that the Asian nation broke through the dominance of winter sports by Europe and North America, which has been in place since the Winters Games started in Chamonix, France, in 1924. Japan is the only non-European or North American country to host the Winter Games, which it did in Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998.

Before the vote, Pyeongchang sent eight representatives for a final appeal to IOC members.

The speakers included President Lee, bid chief Cho Yang-ho, Korean Olympic Committee chairman Park Yong-sung, special envoy for Pyeongchang’s bid Kim Jin-sun, bid committee spokeswoman Teresa Rah, IOC member Moon Dae-sung, honorary ambassador and reigning Olympic champion skater Kim Yu-na and Toby Dawson, a Korean adoptee and U.S. Olympic skier.

In the 70-minute presentation, including a 15-minute question-and-answer session, Pyeongchang emphasized its campaign theme, “New Horizons.”

In its two previous Winter Games bids, Pyeongchang dwelled on the theme that Korea is a divided nation and that hosting the Olympics could help ease tensions between North and South Korea.

However, that message was discarded this time.

Since announcing its third bid in 2007, and after it was named an official candidate city last year, Pyeongchang has been stressing its ambition to become an Asian winter sports hub.

Highlighted by its “Dream Program,” a project started in 2004 that invites young athletes from countries without a developed winter sports scene to visit Korea and experience winter sports, Pyeongchang has shown that it could bring the legacy of the Winter Olympics to the continent of Asia.

The city also emphasized that it had 87 percent support from the nation’s public to host the Winter Games, which was more than the other two competing cities.

The Korean government promised to fulfill all the needs of the IOC, and President Lee Myung-bak flew halfway around the world to Durban on Saturday to make the promise in person.

Pyeongchang also stressed that its two main venue clusters are compact and close enough to each other that athletes can move from venue to venue in no more than 30 minutes.

By Joo Kyung-don []