[Viewpoint] A diplomatic war for the Olympics

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[Viewpoint] A diplomatic war for the Olympics


Pyeongchang County, Gangwon, and Munich, Germany, are now engaged in a fierce competition over the right to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

The Korean town lost bids in 2010 and 2014, but its attempts were praised for having built trust in the international sports community.

Munich, which hosted the Summer Olympics in 1972, is trying to become the first city ever to host both the summer and winter events. Germany is a winter sports superpower, ranking near the top in the 2006 Torino Winter Olympic Games and second in this year’s Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Korea was ranked fifth in the Vancouver Games, so it’s not in a bad position, either.

Pyeongchang, Munich and Annecy, France, submitted bids to the International Olympic Committee on March 15. Pyeongchang is not seen as being in the lead. One foreign media outlet called Munich the most likely candidate, with Pyeongchang coming in second and Annecy in third.

Let’s compare the details of the bids. Pyeongchang has $31.5 million in funds, while Munich has committed $42.4 million to host the event. Importantly, Munich plans to raise all of its funds through German sponsors. It has already secured more than 60 percent of the amount through multinational companies such as BMW, Lufthansa, Adidas and Siemens. In comparison to that, Pyeongchang’s progress is dismal.

Pyeongchang’s goal for total marketing income in Korea is $651 million, while Munich’s target is much higher, at $1.07 billion. Of course, whether that goal will actually be realized or not remains to be seen.

TV networks in the United States, which pay the lion’s share of the income for broadcasting rights, also favor Munich because the time difference with the German city will allow important events to air during prime time, attracting higher advertising revenue, while Pyeongchang does not enjoy that advantage.

There are, however, other aspects in which Pyeongchang actually leads its rivals. All the stadiums in Pyeongchang are located within 30 minutes of each other.

In Munich, the ski slopes and the ice rinks are more than 60 minutes away from each other.

The International Olympic Committee also favors Pyeongchang to promote winter sports and balanced development in the Winter Olympic Games. Support by the Korean government, locals and the nation for Pyeongchang’s bid is also far more passionate than in Munich.

The final selection is up to 108 of the 114 IOC members who have the right to vote. For Pyeongchang to win the bid, it must satisfy IOC members enough for them to come to a consensus in its favor. Who can possibly move the hearts of the IOC members? To the right is a brief comparison of the powerful elites in Korea and Germany.

Who has the advantage? Winning a bid to host an Olympics is a war without gunfire. The winner will be announced on July 6, 2011, at the IOC Session in Durban, South Africa.

*The writer is the president of the International Sports Diplomacy Institute.
Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Yoon Kang-ro

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