/ 7 July 2011

Small nations can host the Olympics too

Developing countries across the world have been urged to take heart from the decision to award Pyeongchang the right to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, bid president YS Park said in Durban on Wednesday.

The South Korean city on Wednesday claimed a landslide victory over Munich, Germany and Annecy, France during the 123rd International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Durban.

Ninety-five IOC members voted for the three countries, with Pyeongchang chosen by 63. Munich got 25 and Annecy just seven votes.

South Africa had until recently been considering a bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, is due to host them in 2016.

Park, also president of the Korean Olympic Committee, said: “I think the decision of Rio … and Pyeongchang’s success here gives new hope to developing countries, because in the past we think this is something only for the big countries.

“We thought only they can organise the games. But now Rio and us have shown other developing countries that with a good bid and a good campaign they can host games.”

Pyeongchang, bidding for a third consecutive time, had been considered the favourite to win. It lost out to Sochi in the race for 2014 and was beaten by Vancouver for the 2010 games.

Bid chairperson Cho Yang-ho said: “We’ve always said we wanted to take the games to new horizons and we’ve done it.”

IOC president Jacques Rogge was surprised by the outcome of the vote.

“I didn’t expect a victory in the first round, frankly speaking. I thought there would be at least two rounds.”

He felt sympathy played a role after Pyeongchang lost out the previous two times.

“The third time was a very, very good bid. It was exactly the same situation we had with Rio. The last 10 years they’ve bid three times and the third bid was the winning one.”

The IOC’s session ends on Saturday. — Sapa