DECISION 2018: Pyeongchang win race to stage 2018 Winter Olympics
PYEONGCHANG will stage the 2018 Winter Olympics - after beating off rivals Munich and Annecy in convincing style.
SUCCESS: IOC president Jacques Rogge announces that Pyeongchang, long-time favourites, have landed the 2018 Winter Olympics ahead of European rivals Munich and Annecy
Only one vote of the IOC's 95 eligible members was required for the Korean city to gain the majority of support they needed in Durban.
Pyeongchang's margin of victory was convincing - the first time since Salt Lake City trumped Budapest for the 2002 winter Games that a candidate has won in the first round.
They picked up 63 of the 95 votes cast, leaching Munich on 25 and Annecy with a solitary and somewhat embarrassing eight.
It is a happy ending to a story that began ten years ago - with the city unsuccessfully bidding to stage both the 2010 and 2014 Games, losing out by three votes to Vancouver and then four votes to Sochi, despite winning the first round of voting on both occasions.
"Pyeongchang’s inspiring project sets out to have the heart of the Olympic Winter Games beating in the mountains," said IOC president Jacques Rogge.
"The South Korean project will leave a tremendous legacy as Pyeongchang will become a new winter sports hub in Asia, allowing athletes and young generations to practise winter sports at home, be exposed to the Olympic values of excellence, friendship, and respect, and pursue their Olympic dream.
"I congratulate Pyeongchang. The IOC looks forward to collaborating with them over the next seven years.”
Located 110 miles east of Seoul, the hosts of the 1988 summer Games, Pyeongchang will be only the third Asian city to host the winter event - following Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998.
They certainly learned the lessons from previous failures - presenting an impressive vision that wasn't drawn on plans but there to see already in bricks and mortar.
Seven of the 13 venues have already been completed and it is hoped the area will now become the 'winter sports hub of Asia'.
Korean officials have spent £20 million promoting their credentials and after two unsuccessful campaigns have worked hard to raise awareness of the city, which is located in the Gangwon Province, one of Korea's less developed regions.
And no-one now confuses the Pyeongchang with Pyongyang, the capital of the reclusive, communist North Korea.
Even the IOC's European dominated membership would have been embarrassed to select one of their cities to stage the event for the 15th time - especially considering Sochi is hosting in 2010 - when Asia has held the event just twice."
Several factors clearly resonated with the IOC's membership - with the 45 minute presentation of their bid team also trumping their European rivals in both style and substance and even humour.
Firstly the compact nature of the bid - 30 minutes is the maximum distance between venues, which contrasts favourably with the three hours it took to travel between Vancouver and the snow resort of Whistler during last year's Games.
Secondly, even the IOC's European dominated membership would have been embarrassed to select one of their cities to stage the event for the 15th time - especially considering Sochi is hosting in 2010 - when Asia has held the event just twice.
The overall budget for the Games is estimated at £2.1 billion, contrasted against the £9bn being spent staging admittedly larger scale London 2012 Olympics, and includes several major transport infrastructure projects.
In 2017 a high speed rail line will link Seoul with Pyeongchang in just 50 minutes and new highway between the cities will reduce the driving time by 40 minutes to less than two hours.
Winter sports have boomed in South Korea in the past four years, the product of a growing leisure class in an increasingly prosperous Asian nation.
In 1999, there were only 11 ski resorts in South Korea, now there are at least 17 while the country ranked fifth on the last Winter Olympic medal table - behind only winter sport powerhouses Canada, Germany, USA and Norway - with 14 medals, including six golds.
"Now Rio and us have shown other developing countries that with a good bid and a good campaign they can host games, too. It's a great chance for developing countries to take hope to organise either the Winter Games or Summer Games in the future," said Park Yong-sung, the head of the Korean Olympic Committee.
Cho Yang-ho, Pyeongchang 2018's bid chairman, admitted surprise at the number of votes his campaign picked up in the first round of voting while Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-Na - already an early favourite to light the flame - hinted she would not quit the sport after Sochi but continue for another Games.
"I am lost for words about now," she said.
"I can't say anything right now. I'm really excited. It will be very good to compete in my own country."
© Sportsbeat 2011