Bidding race for 2018 games heats up

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Bidding race for 2018 games heats up

ACAPULCO, Mexico - If Pyeongchang was all about perseverance and sincerity, Munich was about humor and glamour and Annecy, France, was about elegance.

The bidding race for the 2018 Winter Olympics is heating up and the three cities are confronting each other officially here in this beautiful resort town.

Each of the cities conducted their very first presentations on Oct. 21 at the Association of National Olympic Committees general assembly.

This is almost a life-and-death bid for the South Korean city of Pyeongchang, which sits amid the mountains of Gangwon Province and the East Sea.

It’s the city’s third time bidding. The Pyeongchang bid committee - headed by Korean Air President Cho Yang-ho, along with Gangwon Governor Lee Gwang-jae and the Korean International Olympic Committee member, Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee - wants to believe in the old expression, “the third time is the charm.”

Things, however, did not work in Pyeongchang’s favor.

Munich was represented well by legendary figure skater Katarina Witt, who gave a fluid presentation, spiced with impromptu humor, and was powered by the flawless French of the CEO of Munich’s bid, Bernhard Schwank.

Munich’s video clips also fit the mood. They featured people of various ethnic groups and from different places saying “Welcome to Munich” in more than eight languages, including Cantonese.

Schwank later told the JoongAng Ilbo that the presentation was meant to “express a message to the whole world.”

Witt, after a thunder of applause, later said, “I am relieved that we could finish this presentation well.”

And Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee’s vice president, told the German news agency DPA, “Munich is in a good position, but this is a marathon race.”

Annecy’s secret ammunition, meanwhile, came with a video clip featuring first lady Carla Bruni, who elegantly sat on her impeccably lovely white sofa wearing a lavender cardigan, and said, “I’ll do my best to have the glory of hosting the Winter Olympics in 2018.”

There was a little controversy, however, about the scene of the opening video, because it featured bid chairman Edgar Grospiron getting dressed.

Pyeongchang’s presentation, meanwhile, had, as expected, a by-the-books approach.

Featuring the perfect English and friendly smile of communications officer Theresa Rah, it set the stage for Korea’s National Olympic Committee President Park Yong-sung, IOC athlete member Moon Dae-sung and Governor Lee.

It was hard to find a flaw in the presentation, but at the same time, it could not be described as electrifying.

The most fun part, according to some attendants, came when the new governor waved his hand and said, “See you in Pyeongchang” with his politician-style-yet-friendly smile.

The following morning, Pyeongchang told a handful of international reporters of its plans if it wins the bid, including a new law to develop Pyeongchang into an international-friendly community.

After the event, an IOC member said on condition of anonymity that Munich is at the top, followed by Pyeongchang and Annecy. But, he added, that this was only the beginning of the race.

Munich, Pyeongchang and Annecy are also well aware that this is only the beginning; one of them will be named the winner by the IOC in July in Durban, South Africa.

Said Park: “We will continue to make an effort. We know this is only a beginning of a very good race.”


By Chun Su-jin [sujiney@joongang.co.kr]
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