(ATR) PyeongChang is the pick of the IOC to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.
PyeongChang's third straight bid proved the charm. (ATR)
The bid from South Korea beat out rival candidates Annecy and Munich in a single round of voting Wednesday at the IOC Session in Durban.
PyeongChang tallied 63 votes while Munich mustered 25 and Annecy only 7.
From start to finish, the process took mere minutes, marking the briefest IOC host vote to date. Salt Lake City was elected to stage the 2002 Winter Games on a first-round ballot in 1995, but the lightning-fast voting system in use today had yet to replace traditional paper ballots.
IOC president Jacques Rogge’s announcement actually came just past midnight on Thursday for the newly crowned host city, situated seven hours ahead of South African standard time.
The bid was the third in a row from South Korea’s winter sports center.
PyeongChang lost out on the 2010 Games by a mere three votes, then suffered a similar fate four years later. Only four votes sent the 2014 Olympics to Sochi instead of South Korea.
Thanks to Wednesday’s decision, PyeongChang is done bidding for the foreseeable future. Instead, the city will now organize South Korea’s first-ever Winter Games.
In an emotionally charged final presentation delivered just a few hours before the vote, Korean president Myung Bak Lee assured the IOC of total government support one last time and urged the roughly 100 eligible voters in attendance to consider campaign slogan “New Horizons” when casting their ballots later in the day.
PyeongChang promises a compact Winter Olympics come 2018, a factor commended by the IOC Evaluation Commission during its May report and reiterated Wednesday by bid chairman and CEO Yang Ho Cho.
Myung Bak Lee made the trip to Durban on behalf of PyeongChang. (Korean Presidential Office)
With just two villages and venues generally 10 to 20 minutes apart, the Games should be easy to get around, even with the gateway airport of Incheon two-plus hours away. That travel time will be cut in half with construction of a high-speed rail line linking the Olympic venues to Seoul.
Recognizing the need to boost ambiance
and charm in rural PyeongChang, $80 million is budgeted to create a “world of Korea experience” during the Games.
Though tangible legacies include a sliding center, new ski runs and a skating oval, bid leaders say the real impact will be sizeable growth for winter sport, both within South Korea and throughout Asia.
With public support long touted in excess of 90 percent, the people of PyeongChang wanted these Games.
Whether that ultimately resonated with voters will never be known. The electronic balloting
system in use by the IOC is completely blind, meaning names are never attached to votes.
It’s back to the drawing board then for Annecy and Munich.
The selection of PyeongChang opens the door a bit wider for European candidates in the race for 2022, though bids could also come from the U.S. and Canada.
With Chamonix as the host of the first Winter Olympics in 1924, Grenoble in 1968 and Albertville in 1992, nearby Annecy was operating with a wealth of experience in winter sports.
Munich, meanwhile, was looking to become the world’s first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Instead, the nearly 80-year wait often touted by bid leaders will go on. Germany last hosted the Winter Games in 1936 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Munich 2018’s proposed alpine venue.
Written by Matthew Grayson.
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