City prepares for first-ever Leisure Games

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City prepares for first-ever Leisure Games


Children enjoy skateboards at the campus of Hallym University in Chuncheon, Gangwon, last week, in a youth camp held to celebrate the 1st World Leisure Games, which will start on Aug. 28 in the city. [YONHAP]

Korea’s lake city of Chuncheon, Gangwon, is finishing last-minute preparations to host the upcoming world outdoor and leisure festival, now just 30 days away.

The organizing committee for the 11th World Leisure Congress 2010 and the 1st World Leisure Games said about 17,000 participants from 67 nations will take part in the international festival, which promotes outdoor activities and leisure industries, with a large number of tourists visiting the city and nearby regions.

The event will take place in Chuncheon, 85 kilometers (53 miles) east of Seoul, from Aug. 28 to Sept. 5.

“We expect this event will provide an opportunity for a transition of interest from traditional elite sports to leisure,” An Gwang-soo, an official at the organizing committee, said.

Founded in 1952, World Leisure is a worldwide, nongovernmental association of persons and organizations dedicated to discovering and fostering those conditions that best permit leisure activities to serve as a force for human growth, development and well-being.

The Korean city was picked for the 2010 venue in 2005 after competing with Italy.

The World Leisure Congress will be held at Gangwon National University under the theme of “Leisure and Identities.”

The event includes a forum among researchers, educators and government officials in the fields of leisure, recreation and tourism for discussions on promoting the future of the leisure industry and expanding academic collaboration.

A keynote address will be delivered by Canadian journalist Carl Honore, who wrote the international best seller “In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed.”

Among other keynote speakers are American sociologist George Ritzer and Zoltan Somogyi, executive director for the UN World Tourism Organization.

The World Leisure Games, held for the first time, will include 15 events to promote outdoor activities and leisure sports, including waterskiing, wakeboarding, sports climbing and tap dance.

With 30 days to the opening, organizers are entering the final preparation phase to welcome thousands of participants from around the world. They are now focusing on training some 2,800 volunteers and workers, who will be helping out at the event.

Accommodations and parking facilities have been expanded to make room for the 17,000 participants from 67 countries, a larger number than initially expected. The events will be able to host up to 3,000 visitors per day, with parking space for 4,400 cars. As many as 130 shuttle buses will operate daily to transport participants and visitors between stadiums.

The program for the opening ceremony, the highlight of the event, is also complete, with various performances and congratulatory remarks by sports celebrities in the lineup.

“We are concentrating on boosting interest among the public by organizing various classes and events that deal with leisure. We are done preparing, and on Thursday, we will throw a large party to get everyone into the spirit of the games, with 30 days left to the opening,” said an official for the organizing committee.

The construction of an aviation stadium is due to finish next month, completing the set of facilities to be used for the games, covering six national and nine international events. Afterward, the city plans to open the facilities for public use.

An exhibition showcasing the past, present and future of Chuncheon as a “global leisure city” is also planned for the same period, while visitors will be given a chance to taste some of Chuncheon’s famous delicacies at a food festival.

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