PyeongChang Win Rights to Host 2018 Winter Olympics in First Round

July 6, 2011

After it was confirmed that a winner was voted in the first round of voting for the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Durban due to a majority of over half the votes, PyeongChang have been confirmed as the hosts of the Games, making it third time lucky for the South Korean city.

IOC President Jacques Rogge announced one of the three candidates had achieved an outright majority in a first round of voting, leading the vast majority to conclude that the South Korean bid had been successful over its rivals from Munich and Annecy. An opinion which was confirmed at 4:17pm UK time.

The decision was not due to be announced until a special ceremony scheduled for 5.22pm but it became evident that PyeongChang appeared to have had big enough support to claim victory in the first round.

On the eve of the vote, one of their officials claimed that they had already secured 54 votes which is 1 less than half of the IOC members. However, due to a number of members being confirmed as absent from the vote, and representatives from the bidding nations not being able to vote, in the end only 95 IOC members were eligible. This meant that Pyeongchang would have needed 48 for an outright victory.

The last time a city won in the first round of voting when there were more than two cities bidding was back in 1995 in Budapest when Salt Lake City won its bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, a process which was shrowded in controversy at the time and led to major reforms at the IOC.

PyeongChang will be mightily relieved to have beaten their opponents in the first round of voting having led at this stage in the previous bidding tenders for the 2010 and 2014 editions of the Games, only to be eventually outdone by Vancouver and Sochi respectively.

Presentations Round-up

Munich were first up to make their final presentation in a bid to win the rights to host the 2018 Winter Olympics at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Durban this morning, July 6, and delivered a strong pitch.

IOC vice-president Thomas Bach was joined in the bid team by German President Christian Wulff, bid chair Katarina Witt, bid CEO Bernhard Schwank, vice-chair of athletes’ commission Claudia Bokel, German soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer, Munich mayor Christian Ude, 12-time Paralympic champion Verena Bentele and Double Olympic champion Maria Hoefel-Riesch.

The German city’s presentation revolved around the sporting experience of Munich. The team emphasised that the Games would be held in the warm and charming atmosphere of Bavaria, with “incredible” winter sports fans. The use of 1972 Olympic venues was also stressed to show the bid’s sustainability, along with the promise of no white elephants.

Bach made a slight dig at PyeongChang, who have failed in their bids for the previous two editions of the Games, stating : “Today’s decision is not about how many times someone has bid or how long someone has been waiting. This decision today is about the merits.”

Next up were the long-perceived underdogs from the French city of Annecy which has suffered a turbulent bid campaign thus far.

The bid team headed by leader Charles Beigbeder delivered a quaint and charming presentation which included input from the likes of French Prime Minister François Fillon, IOC member Guy Drut, French Olympic committee president Denis Masseglia, bid vice presidents Pernilla Wiberg and Jean-Pierre Vidal, Olympian Kevin Roland, Annecy mayor Jean-Luc Rigaut and French sports minister Chantal Jouanno.

Annecy bid team emphasised a key message and promise of delivering an intimate, friendly and accessible Games. The presentation stressed the capability of the Alpine town delivering “an authentic Games celebration in an exceptional mountain setting” graced by the character and spirit of the local communities. Interestingly, Annecy claimed that their bid offers the most compact venues plan for a Winter Olympics, despite IOC criticism of distances between facilities.

Prime Minister Fillon stated: “France is ready to take up the challenge. In 2018, it will be 50 years since Grenoble. In the 21st century, we want to reinvent this experience with you. France wants to be this partner, offering you the strength of its commitment, its passion.”

Last up were PyeongChang, the South Korean bidders who many believed were favourites in the run up to today’s session, and they didn’t disappoint. An emotive, passionate and inspiring presentation did their already strong chances of success no harm whatsoever.

The presentation included persuasive pleas from President of Korea Myung Bak Lee, bid chairman and CEO Yang Ho Cho, Korean Olympic Committee president Yong-Sung Park, reigning ladies figure skating Olympic champion Yuna Kim, Communications director Theresa Rah, former Governor of Gangwon province and special ambassador, Jinsun Kim, Korean IOC member Dae Seong Moon, and Olympic bronze medalist, Toby Dawson.

Speeches paid lip service to PyeongChang’s tagline New Horizons and the team were keen to highlight its ambition to open up the Winter Games to new regions of the world. Theresa Rah said that of 20 Winter Games since 1984, 19 were in traditional markets. None in Korea.

Yu Na Kim was arguably the teams best speaker, stating: “I am an example of a living legacy of the government commitment to improving winter sports. I know now more than ever what our victory will mean.

“Thank you dear IOC members for allowing someone like me to achieve my dreams and inspire others.”