[EDITORIALS]No Winter Olympics This Way

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[EDITORIALS]No Winter Olympics This Way

The Korean Olympic Committee selected the provinces of Gangwon and North Jeolla as candidate venues for the 2010 Winter Olympics, and the selection is causing unhappiness. Officials from Gangwon province, which has winter sports areas, are upset because North Jeolla, which has no serious skiing, is listed. Gangwon officials have vowed to take the matter to court. A serious conflict between the two regions looms.

For local governments, hosting the Winter Olympics could be attractive in many respects. It could be an opportunity to hasten local development. Even if a locale doesn't earn the final bid, merely being a candidate venue and registering with the International Olympic Committee can gain all kinds of monetary support from the central government. We cannot therefore blame the eagerness of the two provincial governments to become candidate venues.

But there has yet to be a national consensus on hosting a Winter Olympics in Korea. Considering that Korea is strong in just a handful of winter sports, that the country lacks enough winter sports facilities and that Korea's climate and geological factors are not fully suited to hosting such a worldwide event, for Korea to put on a winter Olympiad would seem risky. The problem becomes more complex if one takes into consideration the strained financial situation at both the central and local governments following the regional financial crisis.

Under such circumstances, the Korean Olympic Committee added another problem by declaring both provinces as candidate venues. The selection defies the international norm that Olympic Games are hosted by a particular city. It also goes against the recommendation by the International Olympic Committee that at least one particular region hosts an event. The Korean Olympic Committee, therefore, should be blamed for trying to give false hope to candidate provinces instead of promoting Korea's overall chances of hosting the games. If the committee is indeed intent on hosting the event, it needs to select one venue before February or give up its plan. More than 10 international cities are competing to be selected. Why should Korea waste its energy on a hopeless selection?

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