Hitting a grand slamDaegu has been selected to host the 13th World Championships in Athletics in 2011. In winning the bid, Korea became the seventh country to accomplish the “triple crown,” hosting the summer Olympics in 1988, the soccer World Cup in 2002, and now these championships. Daegu’s city government, the bid committee and Daegu’s residents made an enormous effort to win the right to host this prestigious event and we applaud them.
The World Championships in Athletics consist solely of track and field events, but its popularity is similar to that of the summer Olympics. In 2005, Finland hosted the 10th World Championships in Athletics and 6.5 billion people around the world watched the event.
The Daegu games are expected to attract about 30,000 foreign visitors and the city expects that the event will generate about 600 billion won ($639 million) worth of economic activity, including jobs for 5,000 people. Korea and Seoul were reborn after the 1988 Olympics, and Daegu has now found an opportunity to become a city of international renown by hosting this event.
This achievement is particularly noteworthy because Daegu accomplished it from nothing. There was almost no support from the central government, but Daegu topped Moscow, which was actively backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and that is extremely meaningful.
It is now time for the South Korean government to get involved. It should look back on its lack of support with embarrasment and actively participate from now on to promote the event’s success. No matter how important a sports event is, it will not mean much if Koreans are not winning. For the next four years, the government must do its best to nurture competitive athletes. It is also critical to educate fair and capable referees to successfully officiate at the event.
In May, we will find out the result of Incheon’s bid to host the 2014 Asian Games, and, in July, Korea will see the outcome of Pyeongchang’s bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. In December, we will also find out if Yeosu will host EXPO 2012. It is time to increase our efforts. Let’s go beyond the “triple crown” and achieve the “grand slam” in hosting world events.