[Viewpoint] From Baden-Baden to DurbanThirty years ago, in 1981, the International Olympic Committee held a general meeting in Baden-Baden in West Germany.
Seoul, which had struggled throughout the race to win the 1988 Olympics, surprised the world by getting 52 votes, beating Nagoya, Japan, which earned 27 votes.
Seoul was finally chosen as the host city of the 1988 Summer Olympic Games.
The Seoul Olympics reinvented the image of Korea to the world from “a country of war and orphans” to “a country of miracle and prosperity.” It was a great leap for Korea to shake off the gloomy past and jump into the promising future.
Co-hosting the 2002 World Cup with Japan brought another spectacular sports moment for Korea, especially since the team placed fourth. In July 2003, the IOC general session convened in Prague and Pyeongchang made its first bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.
In the first round, Pyeongchang won 51 votes, jumping ahead of Vancouver, Canada, which had 40 votes and Salzburg, Austria, which nabbed 16 votes.
But the second round wasn’t kind to Pyeonchang, which ultimately lost by three votes to Vancouver, 56 to 53. It was a truly painful defeat.
At the same time, Pyeongchang, a city with a population of 40,000, put on an unexpectedly aggressive campaign.
Moreover, Korea eventually went on to have its best ever Olympics last year, winning the fifth-most number of gold medals in Vancouver.
On July 6, 2007, the sun rose but the day was still dark in Pyeongchang.
The IOC session in Guatemala would determine who would win the 2014 Winter Olympics.
This time it was Sochi, Russia, that narrowly edged the Gangwon city to host the Games.
So the people of Pyeongchang, who had worked so hard for the bid, were left in despair.
I wrote a column for the JoongAng Ilbo the day after Pyeongchang lost for a second time and said, “We cannot stop here. We must not give up now.
We have to challenge again. It is not because of the construction we have started. We cannot give up the ardent hope and sincere effort. If we give up after two tries, it is no better than never trying. Let’s challenge again and again until Korea wins the bid.
“Pyeongchang is the pride of Koreans, representing the devoted souls within us. Let’s put even more effort into preparation to make up for four years of effort snatched away by Vancouver, and eight years of hard work taken by Sochi. Giving up now would be a betrayal to Koreans, and despair is a betrayal to the history.”
Another four years have passed so quickly.
In a few days, the International Olympic Committee will meet in Durban, South Africa, to vote on the host of the 2018 Winter Olympics. It almost feels like it all depends on the will of the heavens.
Four years ago, it seemed as if another chance would never come.
However, we plucked up the courage and worked so hard to come this far.
There will be no tears the third time because we have already shed all we had.
Now, only celebration and cheers remain.
It was in Durban, 37 years ago,where boxer Hong Su-hwan defeated Arnold Taylor and won the WBA bantamweight title. We all remember him shouting out, “Mom, I am a champion now!”
Let’s all hope that the International Olympic Committee announces Pyeongchang as the host city.
The small dream that began in Pyeongchang became the dream of Gangwon.
It is now the dream of Korea, and it will soon be the dream of the world when we bring the spirit of the nation together.
The third time will be the charm, and it’s time for all Koreans to come together.
The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang will surely bring an opportunity to upgrade Korea’s status.
With the Winter Olympics, Korea will have hosted the three major international sporting events in 30 years: the Summer Games in 1988, the World Cup in 2002 and, hopefully, the Winter Games in 2018.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Chung Jin-hong
More in Columns
China’s thin skin
The Korean War from China’s view
Who’s laughing now?
Fighting Chinese patriotism
The curse of the presidency