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PyeongChang steps closer to 2018 Olympics

PyeongChang steps closer to 2018 Olympics

Kim Yu-na pitches to IOC members

By Oh Kyu-wook

LAUSANNE -- The final race for the 2018 Winter Games has begun and PyeongChang, making its third bid, looks very strong this time after successfully delivering their campaign on Wednesday to International Olympic Committee members.

With just 50 days to go before the host of the 2018 Winter Olympics is decided, the race heated up Wednesday here in Lausannne as PyeongChang and the other two bidders -- Munich and Annecy, France -- made their pitches to IOC members.

Eighty-nine IOC members and hundreds of reporters across the world gathered at the Olympic Museum, overlooking Lake Geneva and the French Alps, for the 2018 technical briefing. 
Vancouver Olympic champion Kim Yu-na Yonhap News
Vancouver Olympic champion Kim Yu-na Yonhap News

The IOC briefing was the first opportunity for the three bidders presenting their campaign directly to the IOC committee, which will vote in July to decide the host for the 2018 Winter Games.

It was also the first time for South Korean figure skating star Kim Yu-na to make a pitch for PyeongChang. Kim is one member of the six-member panel, including PyeongChang bid committee CEO Cho Yang-ho and KOC chairman Park Yong-sung. IOC member Lee Kun-hee and Moon Dae-sung also came to give their support.

Speaking in English in front of the IOC members during her maiden presentation, Kim admitted she was “nervous.”

“I am very aware that the reason that I am here is much more important than winning a gold medal,” she said.

The Vancouver Olympic gold medalist highlighted that PyeongChang’s plan is “athlete-centered.”

“We designed our two-cluster venue plan to be one of the most compact and efficient in Winter Games history. And perhaps most importantly, 80 percent of the athletes can travel to and from their venues within five to 10 minutes,” Kim told the IOC members.

PyeongChang has twice bid for the games, hoping to host in 2010 and 2014, but is now looking to banish the memory of two previous failures.

Cho said that he had carefully analyzed its last two bids before building the 2018 campaign.

“We asked ourselves how we can improve upon those efforts, and we learned some valuable lessons,” he told the IOC members.

With its slogan of “New Horizons,” PyeongChang’s plan is focused on what is best for winter sports, for winter athletes and for the Olympic and Paralympic Movement, according to the Cho.

“Our message to you today is clear and unique. PyeongChang 2018 is an opportunity for the Olympic Movement, building upon the lessons of the past, but looking forward to new Horizons,” he told the IOC members.

Reports suggest that PyeongChang is the strong favorite the 2018 race, while Munich running closely behind in its bid to become the first city to host both Winter and Summer Games.

The IOC Evaluation Commission described PyeonChang’s plan as a “very compact concept,” and that it could become a springboard to develop winter sports in Asia in its technical report following an on-site inspection earlier this year.

It also highlighted that PyeongChang surpasses its rivals in opinion polls of residents with 92 percent of city locals and 87 percent of Koreans in favor of hosting the Winter Games. The host city will be selected by secret ballot at the IOC executive board meeting in Durban, South Africa on July 6.

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