Pyeongchang not a Games front-runner: Official

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Pyeongchang not a Games front-runner: Official

Pyeongchang, a Korean candidate city for the 2018 Winter Olympics, is not a front-runner in the bidding race but is making efforts to finish first, a senior Korean sports official said Wednesday.

At a press conference, Park Sun-kyoo, vice minister of culture, sports and tourism, said Pyeongchang “is definitely not in first place” in the race.

“I must confess that we’re not in the lead as many people have said,” Park said. “I ask you to consider that a fact.”

Pyeongchang, Gangwon, is competing against Munich and Annecy, France. The host will be determined at the International Olympic Committee General Assembly in Durban, South Africa, on July 6.

Pyeongchang came up short in two previous bids, narrowly losing to Vancouver, Canada, and then to Sochi, Russia.

Park noted that Korean and foreign press have dubbed Pyeongchang a front-runner in the race, but said, “Munich is still strong and Annecy is also making its utmost effort in the bidding.”

Munich, led by current IOC vice president Thomas Bach, boasts a wealth of experience in hosting international winter sports competitions. Annecy was once seen as lagging behind the two rivals with an abrupt change in the leadership of its bidding committee in January, but the French town has made major strides, Park said.

“We’re trying to identify our shortcomings from the two failed bids and to learn from them,” the official said. “We’re making every effort to ensure Pyeongchang’s victory in Durban on July 6.”

The three candidates made their case to IOC members last week in Lausanne, Switzerland. Pyeongchang has built its bid on a concept titled “New Horizons,” as it tries to bring the Winter Games to Korea for the first time and to Asia for only the third time. Only Japan has hosted Winter Olympics on the continent, in Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998.

Pyeongchang has also tried to highlight a compact, athlete-friendly Games plan, with all venues to be placed within 30 minutes of each other.

Park said Korea is a country that owes its development to the Olympic spirit, having used the 1988 Seoul Olympics as a launching pad for international recognition.

He added that if Pyeongchang won the right to the 2018 Winter Games, Koreans would once again come together and it would help the country grow even further.

“We’re a nation that owes to the Olympic spirit and we want to pay it back,” Park said. “[The Winter Games] would be an opportunity for us to revitalize ourselves and become a major player in the world.”

Park stressed that because Pyeongchang is desperate to win, it calls for a more cautious approach.

“We can’t underestimate the potential of Munich, given its natural surroundings, experience in hosting events and its manpower,” Park said. “We can’t help but be deliberate when you take these into account.”


한글 관련 기사 [연합]
최문순 강원지사 "평창유치 장담할 수 없는 상황"
'2차투표 대비 IOC위원 일대일 맞춤형 전략 중요'
최문순 강원도지사는 2018 평창동계올림픽 유치 전망에 대해 "전반적인 분위기는 괜찮지만, 이길 수 있다고 장담할 수 없는 상황"이라고 말했다.

최 지사는 스위스 로잔에서 열린 2018 동계올림픽 후보도시 테크니컬브리핑에 참석하고 귀국해 23일 가진 기자간담회에서 이같이 말하고 "평창과 뮌헨의 2강 구도에 대비한 맞춤형 전략이 필요하다"고 강조했다.

그는 또 "국제올림픽위원회(IOC) 위원들이 극도로 표현을 자제해 어느 정도 유리한지 알 수 없지만, 평창의 홍보부스를 찾은 IOC 위원 수를 보면 2강1약 정도로 추정하고 있다"고 덧붙였다.

최 지사는 이어 "전문가들이 지금부터가 시작이라고 분석하고 있으며 마지막에 한두 표로 결정될 가능성이 크다"며 "오는 7월 6일 개최지 결정까지 빈틈 없는 일대일 전략이 중요하다"고 설명했다.

그는 특히 "평창을 떨어뜨리면 누가 신규 투자를 하면서 동계올림픽을 유치하려고 하겠느냐는 분위기는 있다"며 "하지만, 2차 투표에 대비해 프랑스 안시를 지지했던 표와 부동표를 확보하는 것이 중요해 안시에 대한 우호적인 접근 전략이 필요하다"고 강조했다.

최 지사는 이와 함께 "IOC 위원과 외신기자 중 도지사가 바뀐 도의 일관된 지원과 남북관계에 대한 관심이 있었다"며 "도의 확고한 유치 및 지원의지를 분명하게 전했다"고 언급했다.

그는 또 "김연아 선수의 참여가 현장에서는 단연 꽃이었다"며 "이것이 표로 연결될지는 모르겠고, 이번 브리핑이 냉철한 것이라면 개최지 결정 때는 감성적이고 감동적으로 준비할 것"이라고 설명했다.

최 지사는 이밖에 "북한의 장웅 IOC 위원으로부터 '평창이 가능성이 있어 보인다'는 말을 들었다"며 "장 위원을 도로 초청하고 싶다는 의사를 전했지만, 바쁜 일정 때문에 모르겠다는 답변을 들었다"고 말했다.
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