Pyeongchang Olympic bid ‘nation’s only hope’: envoy

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Pyeongchang Olympic bid ‘nation’s only hope’: envoy

BELGRADE, Serbia - With FIFA president Sepp Blatter declaring on Friday that Qatar, not Korea, won the bid for the 2022 World Cup, eyes are now glued on the one remaining bid of Korean sports ambition - the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic bid.

Kim Jin-sun, former three-time governor of Gangwon and now a special envoy for the bid, told the Korea JoongAng Daily that he is “disheartened by the World Cup bid result” but this makes him “all the more ambitious for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games.” He pledged to do his best, saying, “It’s now the nation’s only hope.”

Kim sat down with the Korea JoongAng Daily during a recent meeting at the European Olympic Committee’s 39th General Assembly here in Belgrade, which was attended by some 300 International Olympic Committee (IOC) members, dignitaries and the press.

Kim was with his team of bidders, including bid president Cho Yang-ho (Korean Air president), Korean National Olympic Committee president Park Yong-sung (Doosan Heavy Industries president) and the incumbent Gangwon Governor Lee Kwang-jae.

The Pyeongchang team gave a report to the EOC on its vision and plans to host the Olympics. Its competition was there too - Munich and Annecy, France.

IOC darling Theresa Rah was the main presenter at the actual presentations on Nov. 27, and sports director Kang Kwang-bae, a former bobsled star, showed the audience that Koreans can also make jokes.

The timing, though, is not necessarily on Pyeongchang’s side, considering the North Korean attack on Yeonpyeong Island. Ng Ser Miang, vice chairman of the IOC from Singapore, however, told the Korea JoongAng Daily that the North Korean threat does not seem to pose a crisis to the bidding race, given the international circumstances and the history of the Korean Peninsula.

Kim also cautiously added, “IOC’s important legacy is peace, and I naturally hope that the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang can contribute greatly to this precious legacy.”

Munich, despite its flamboyant presentation, deals with a headache of its own - the nation’s Green Party withdrew its support out of environmental concerns.

A member of that bid, however, tried to downplay the move, saying it “hastily made the decision” and noted that “local Greens still give strong support.”

Annecy, meanwhile, appeared rather challenged, with Switzerland recently voicing its will to bid for the 2022 Winter Games if Pyeongchang wins the 2018 games.

It is a general IOC rule, though not official, to rotate continents of hosting cities to give even chances.

Pyeongchang can’t sit back over the headaches of its rivals because it has its own issues, on top of North Korea.

Recent controversy over the sponsorship deals between some sports organizations and Korean Air, headed by Cho, is one of them.

In this regard, Kim, the special envoy, cautiously noted, “We all accept the criticism that the timing was not very right, although the sponsorship did not have any dark designs.”

Until judgment day comes next July in the South African city of Durban, and before IOC president Jacques Rogge declares the winner, Kim said he and his colleagues on the bid committee, would “do the best of the best,” and added that “every single IOC-member vote is like a piece of gold to us.”

By Chun Su-jin []

Kim Jin-sun, envoy for Pyeongchang’s 2018 Winter Olympic bid
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