Get Ready... Get Set... Draw!BUSAN － After years of planning and anticipation, the World Cup is about to begin. Ubiquitous flags and signs announce "The Final Draw in Busan," the first official event for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan that kicks off Saturday at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center at 7 p.m.
The Korean Organizing Committee expects 3,500 people will attend the draw ceremony, including 2,100 persons from abroad. There will be 450 delegates from FIFA and the 32 participating nations, 200 from the Japanese Organizing Committee and 350 sponsoring partners, as well as local suppliers and media staff. About 1,400 VIPs and the Korean Organizing Committee executives are also invited to the function.
The draw will place the 32 participating soccer teams into one of eight groups for the first round of the World Cup finals. The opening round is played in a round-robin format, with the top two teams from each group going on to the round of 16. From then on, the competition is single elimination － win or go home. The draw will be broadcast in its entirety to some 130 countries around the world.
By Wednesday, all FIFA committee members had flown in from other continents, including the FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the two chairmen of the local organizing committees, the Korean Organizing Committee's Chung Mong-joon and the Japanese Organizing Committee's Shoh Nasu.
The usually peaceful Paradise Hotel lobby became a bustling hall of officials whose every movement was documented by packs of photographers, plus print and TV reporters. The Paradise Hotel had been selected as the official headquarters for the FIFA committee members, who travel back and forth to the nearby Busan Exhibition and Convention Center on an hourly basis. According to Enrique Byrom, the Chief Executive Officer of the FIFA Accommodation Bureau Korea, selecting guest facilities for the more than 2,000 visitors and introducing new operations systems to the selected hotels have been tough so far. His special challenge for this World Cup is overlooking 20 different locations spread out in Korea and Japan. The number of venues usually varies between 9 and 12 in other years.
To find out more about the preparations for the final draw, the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition spoke with Moon Dong-hoo, the general secretary of the Korean Organizing Committee, and Keith Cooper, the FIFA director of communications.
by Inēs Cho