News / Asia

Koreans Ecstatic Pyeongchang Will Host 2018 Winter Olympics

South Korean supporters in Pyeongchang, South Korea celebrate after the IOC announced that Pyeongchang had won the vote to be the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics, July 7, 2011
South Korean supporters in Pyeongchang, South Korea celebrate after the IOC announced that Pyeongchang had won the vote to be the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics, July 7, 2011

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Jason Strother

The South Korean resort of Pyeongchang has been selected to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.  It took only one round of voting in Durban, South Africa, for Pyeongchang to defeat Munich, Germany, and France's Annecy.  Now many South Koreans hope that by having the games, it will also put them on the map as a winter sports hot spot.

After two consecutive failed bids to host the Winter Olympics, the ski resort area of Pyeongchang, about 180 kilometers east of Seoul, finally will get its chance.

A few hundred Korean fans cheered on the lawn of Seoul Plaza late Wednesday as the result of the International Olympic Committee's vote in Durban, South Africa, was announced.

Ahn Kyoung An, 23, who sounded a little hoarse from cheering, says she is really happy South Korea won this time. "We are also very stunned, because we tried a lot of times," said Ahn.

Pyeongchang is already the center for winter sports in Korea, but many here say the 2018 Olympics could turn the area into an international hub.

That sounds a little overambitious, says Jason Lee, a long time sportscaster with Korea's Arirang TV.  But he says the resorts there have already done a good job at luring some foreign skiers.

"They are bringing people from countries that do not have snow, from South East Asia, from Africa," said Lee.  "They have got good intentions in trying to make Pyeongchang an area that is just not central to Korea."

But Lee says the hard part is making Pyeongchang's facilities meet international expectations.  The area does not have much in the way of an after ski culture, and major transportation projects are planned to make the three-hour trip from Seoul a little less of a trek.  

But Lee says he's confident the Koreans will have it all done by 2018.  "There are a lot of things that need to be built, but it has been one of those things," Lee added.  "We will do it once we are promised these games and I think they definitely do have a long way to go.  But the fact that they have the support of the Olympic committee, the nation is fully behind it."

South Korea becomes the second Asian nation, after Japan, to hold the Winter Games.

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