Try, try, try againThe city of Pyeongchang in Gangwon failed to bring home the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Four years ago, it was beaten by the Canadian city of Vancouver. This time, it allowed the Russian city of Sochi to stage a late comeback. Citizens of Gangwon and Pyeongchang who expected the Olympics would help develop the region’s economy are surely feeling great disappointment.
Nevertheless, we cannot stop here. That we have failed twice does not mean that we have to fold our “Pyeongchang dream.”
On the contrary, we have to coolly analyze why the city of Pyeongchang, which had received rave reviews from the international sporting community, failed in the 11th hour, and prepare for the future.
The Winter Olympics will be held in 2018 and 2022, too.
Some say the failure to attract the Games will only add to the demise of the country’s winter sports competitiveness.
This time, the International Olympic Committee apparently listened to Russia’s plea that despite clinching 293 medals in the Winter Olympics it has never hosted the event and thus needed to be given a chance. Until now, Korea has only won 31 medals. Of those, 17 came in short-track speed skating.
Our big gap in performance in winter sports, along with our one-sided winter sports theme, worked against our bid.
In bobsled and luge events, we do not have even a training ground and facilities. What we have to do is to start establishing programs that support a variety of winter sports. In that regard, the emergence of world- class figure skating star Kim Yu-na and speed skater Lee Kang-seok are good signs.
We also need to reflect on factors other than the sports competition itself. In particular, we need to strengthen our sports diplomacy. We cannot just blame the sheer offensive volume that Russia employed to win the bid. We should not forget that getting the hosting rights for international sporting events is, at the end, a competition between the comprehensive economic and diplomatic power of countries.
Earlier this year, we succeeded in getting the hosting rights for the 2011 World Athletics Championships and the 2014 Asian Games. At the end of this year, the city of Yeosu will find out the results of its bid to host the 2012 World Expo. Once more, we are sending our sympathy to the citizens of Pyeongchang and praying that at least in Yeosu, we will hear cheers of joy.