[Viewpoint]Rooting for PyeongChang in 2014

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[Viewpoint]Rooting for PyeongChang in 2014

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PyeongChang residents welcome the evaluation team from the International Olympic Committee on Feb. 15 at Yongpyeong Ski Resort in PyeongChang, Gangwon province. By Byun Sun-goo

In the early days of the Taerung Player Village in 1969, I was in the third year of middle school. I entered Taerung as the youngest national team member for table tennis. During 40 years as a national team member, coach, professor and sports administrator, my life has always been involved in sports, which I consider a blessing.
I am proud of winning honors in Sarajevo that many people still remember. I achieved them because I had a special passion, a tough spirit and an endless desire in my player days. In 1973, I won my first gold medal for Korea at the 32nd World Table-Tennis Championships in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, which was a communist country at that time. Coming from Korea, a developing but unknown country, I beat China and Japan repeatedly and became the world champion.
This unbelievable news hit my country through the radio. I vividly remember the enthusiastic welcome I received and a month-long car tour around the country starting from Seoul’s City Hall.
In the 1970s, I saw sports bring all Koreans together. During the 1988 Seoul Olympics, as a national coach, I realized that Korea had developed a strong sporting heritage. No one can deny that the successful hosting of the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Seoul Olympics contributed greatly to Korea’ s economic, social and cultural development.
Today, sports influence sits alongside political, economic and social endeavors, and the cultural industry. Sports can be an effective channel for world peace, transcending idealism and interests. Particularly in the 21st century, because of the fusion of sports and marketing, the importance of sports is growing and becoming a higher value-added business. Every country is making considerable efforts to host international sporting events.
Hosting international sporting events like the Olympics and Paralympic Games and the Football World Cup would be a catalyst to stimulate national development. Many countries make bids for these types of events, and Korea is no exception. Currently we are in highly competitive races for the 2011 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Daegu, 2012 World Expo in Yeosu, 2014 Asian Games in Incheon and the 2014 Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.
Among them, hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games is a top priority on the national agenda. PyeongChang has the passionate support of the entire nation and there are only 100 days left before the vote.
The IOC Evaluation Committee was impressed by the enthusiasm of the Korean people, the venues and the infrastructure in place to host the 2014 Games.
This is PyeongChang’s second bidding experience. During the 2010 bid, PyeongChang missed out but was able to promote the remote city in mountainous Gangwon Province to the rest of the world. Four years later, the IOC 2014 Evaluation Commission chairman, Chiharu Igaya, was impressed by the thorough preparation and experience of PyeongChang.
A couple of challenges remain, such as improving South Korea’s winter sports performance. PyeongChang can overcome this through the Dream Program, which nurtures future winter sports athletes from around the world.
PyeongChang will lead the expansion of winter sports across Asia and will become the hub of Asian winter sports. We should host the 2014 Winter Games. This would reflect Korea’s status as a strong sports country and would be an opportunity to further generate national development.
To win the bid, we need full support from the entire nation. People of the sporting world and athletes need to show their support as ambassadors for the 2014 PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic bid. The impact of sports is wide-ranging. Sports boost our economy and improve the quality of our lives. That is the reason why we should host the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang ― for our next generation.

*The writer is president of Korea International Training Center.

by Lee Elisa
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