By Kemantha Govender
Durban – Pyeongchang, a South Korean city that will have fond memories of South Africa. It is here where they with “persistence and patience” finally won the bid to host a Winter Olympics, the 2018 Games.
International Olympic Committee head, Jacques Rogge, during the 123rd session of the IOC, announced that Pyeongchang beat Munich and Annecy to win the bid.
The South Korean city won 63 first-round votes and won by a majority of 48. It will be the first time that Korea will host the winter games.
A host city contract was signed almost half an hour after the announcement. South Koreans, including their massive media contingency in Durban, were elated as were the millions back home.
''Pyeongchang has won convincingly. Bidding for the third time has put them on a roll and each time their bid has improved. Their patience and perseverance was important, but this is not exceptional. Rio de Janeiro also won (Summer Olympics 2016) on their third attempt,” said Rogge.
A happy but contained bid leader, Cho Yang-ho, said: “The Koreans have been waiting for 10 years to host the Winter Games... now we have finally achieved our dream.”
President of the South Korean Olympic Committee, Yong Sung Park, said in the past, they thought only rich countries could organise the Olympics, but with South Korea now securing the bid, that perception will change.
"We all know now that even developing countries can do it and we appreciate that. Over 90 percent of Koreans, including government, were behind this bid and I am certain that 50 million of them are celebrating," said Park.
The South Korean delegation will continue with their hard work: they have completed building seven out of 13 venues needed for the games.
The South Koreans feel that the IOC “finally understands” their “New Horizon” vision, which would help promote the popularity of winter sports not only in Korea but also across Asia.
Pyeongchang were congratulated by their closest competitor, Munich, whose delegation was understandably disappointed.
“They were good opponents and we are sure they will stage an excellent Winter Games in 2018. Commiserations too to Annecy and their team. Munich 2018 put together a strong bid and we are immensely proud of everyone involved.
“Of course we are disappointed because we came here to become the host of the 2018 Winter Games. But the IOC has decided to award this honour to another candidate and because we are a sporting team, we accept this decision. We always knew that this would be a very tough race alongside two strong competitors,” said the Munich bid committee in a statement.
The Annecy team also wished the South Koreans well.