Sports calendar is full despite losing WC bidKorea may have missed out in its bid to host the 2022 World Cup, but its sports fans still have much to look forward to over the next few years when it comes to international events.
Just next summer, the world will be watching when the southeastern city of Daegu hosts the World Championships in Athletics. The Asian Games will come to Incheon in 2014, while over on the eastern side of the country, Pyeongchang, Gangwon, has a good chance of winning the right to stage the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Campaign officials in Pyeongchang are hopeful that they will be awarded the games in their third straight bid. The city came close to the 2010 and 2014 prize, losing out to Vancouver, Canada, and the Russian resort city of Sochi, respectively.
Pyeongchang will be competing with Munich and Annecy, France, in next July’s vote held by the International Olympic Committee in the South African city of Durban.
With international sporting bodies such as FIFA and the IOC increasingly prepared to take their tournaments to new regions and markets, Pyeongchang is hoping to bring the Winter Games to Asia for only the third time. Japan is the only Asian nation to have hosted the winter event with Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998.
“We notice that the most important thing is hearty presentation. Moreover, Qatar and Sochi are all new places for both the World Cup and Winter Olympics. This means there are more new places in the world to have a chance,” Kim Man-ki, director of media at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Bid Committee, told Yonhap News Agency.
Incheon, which has almost four years to prepare for the 2014 Asian Games, is hoping that the event will give it global exposure. For the moment however, the city has to focus on following the recent impressive effort demonstrated by the Chinese city of Guangzhou in November.
“Since Sept. 13, members of our staff have been working in Guangzhou, involved in a variety of jobs for the committee. They will be working there until the end of the games, becoming a part of the games,” said Park Dal-hwa of the Asian Games’ organizing committee. “We believe their experience will certainly help us to prepare for a successful Asian Games in 2014.”
Guangzhou spent around $2 billion on the games, which it claims was the biggest amount ever, but Incheon is looking to stage a smaller but more inclusive event after China, Japan and Korea collected 323 of the 477 gold medals up for grabs in Guangzhou.
“The Incheon Asian Games will be a bit smaller, but it will be very different from any previous events,” said Park, who mentioned that $20 million will be provided to countries that have never won an Asian Games medal in order to help with facilities, training and coaching.
It is Daegu, however, that is moving into sight on the sporting horizon, and the World Championships start on Aug. 27.
“We’ve been working hard to make next year’s championships a near-perfect event and by far the best event ever in [International Association of Athletics Federations] history,” said Cho Hae-nyoung, the co-president of Daegu’s Local Organizing Committee.
Just as Pyeongchang is aiming to give winter sports a boost in East Asia, Daegu organizers are hoping to help athletics increase its profile and popularity in the region.
“I believe that it will provide us with an ideal platform to enhance athletics on the Asian circuit,” said Cho.
The championships have prompted more investment in athletics facilities in Korea. Last year, the Korea Association of Athletics Federations announced several projects, including hiring foreign coaches, increasing funds and also building a new indoor stadium, to boost the level of competitiveness of local athletes.