PyeongChang 2018 To Open New Horizons
The 2018 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXIII Olympic Winter Games and commonly known as PyeongChang 2018, is a major international multi-sport event scheduled to take place from 9 to 25 February 2018 in PyeongChang county-- a beautiful winter city located in the mountainous northeast region of South Korea.
PyeongChang is about 250 kilometers from Incheon International Airport. But until the upcoming Games, the Korea Train eXpress (KTX), the country’s high-speed rail system which travels at about 300 kilometers per hour, will hopefully link Incheon and the coastal city of Gangneung, just east of PyeongChang making it 90 minutes’ travel.
It will be the biggest Olympic Winter Games yet with over 102 gold medals and six new programmes on offer and the greatest number of women and mixed events in the history of Olympic Winter Games. Over 50 thousand people including athletes, media and officials are likely to participate.
South Korea is on the final stage to host the games. With this, South Korea will be only the fifth nation in the world to ever host all four major sporting events like Summer and Winter Olympics/Paralympic Games, FIFA World CUP, and the IAAF World Championship in Athletics. After Japan, South Korea will be the second Asian country to host both the summer and winter games.
PyeongChang put a bid to host Winter Olympic Games of 2010 and 2014 but lost. However, with having patience of trying again, South Korean city PyeongChang finally won its bid for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in the first round of voting, receiving 63 of the 95 votes cast, giving it the majority required to be elected host city at the 123rd meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Durban of South Africa on 6 July 2011.
As the Olympic Flame has already landed in Korea, PyeongChang 2018 heralds the start of the Olympic/Paralympic wave in Asia. After this game, South Korea will pass on the baton to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and then the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Thus, it is hoped that PyeongChang, Tokyo and Beijing events will become a platform to further promote peace and cooperation in the Asian region and beyond.
This is not the first Olympic Games held in Korea. Thirty years ago, the Seoul Summer Olympic Games were held in 1988, an event that remains to this day a powerful and proud memory in the minds of the Korean people.
Ravaged by the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, Korea was long dependent on foreign aid - in the 1960s the per capita GDP was less than 100 USD and the country was categorized in the least developed group.
The Seoul Summer Olympic Games showcased Korea’s rapid economic growth that transformed a war-torn country into a vibrant, modern nation. It was the event that changed the image of Korea in the eyes of the international community and gave the Korean people the confidence to meet other challenges in the days ahead.
The 1988 Seoul Games was also meaningful in that the event brought together both sides of the Cold War in the Olympic spirit of sportsmanship and peace. South Korea is again determined to hold its long tradition of sending out the Olympic spirit of peace, unity and cooperation. And the South Korean government is exerting great efforts to make PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games ‘Games of Peace’ which will ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula and create a favourable environment for inter-Korean dialogue, exchange and cooperation.
PyeongChang has hosted ‘The Dream Programme’, an annual winter sports training camp for international youths since 2004 to offer youngsters from countries lacking a natural winter sports environment the opportunity to participate in winter sports.
Till today, over 1,500 youths from 75 countries, including many from Nepal, have participated in the camp and incredibly, 166 of those youths have gone on to compete in international winter sporting events.
South Korea believes that PyeongChang Olympics could be another platform to further enhance the existing warm Korea-Nepal ties. Thus, to support Nepal further during the PyeongChang Olympic Games, Korea South-East Power Company (KOSEP) a government-owned power generating company from Korea and a main sponsor of the Upper Trishuli-1 Hydro-Electric Project, has contributed one million Nepali rupees to support Nepali athletes competing in Alpine and Cross-Country ski events.
South Korea hopes that the friends in Nepal will look forward to the PyeongChang Olympics Games and come together with enthusiasts from all over the world to enjoy the passion, excitement and beauty of the Winter Games.
Following the huge success of the Summer Olympic Games in 1988, PyeongChang 2018 wants to welcome the world once again to the land of the morning calm. Korea became recognized politically, economically and socially after the success of 1988 games as it reached a global audience for the first time. PyeongChang will not only build on what was created 30 years ago but also show the world and the next generation how the country has developed and all it has to offer.
Korea is ready to welcome everyone from around the world to the PyeongChang 2018 Games with a safe and secure environment for the Games to take place. Once again, PyeongChang will connect the world by means of games and promote culture and tourism.
Following the United States, Canada and Japan, Korea has become the fourth non-European country to host the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. South Korea hopes that Winter Games in PyeongChang will not only raise Korea’s status in world sports, succeed on the economic, cultural and environmental fronts and promote world peace including in the Korean Peninsula but also celebrate worldwide on the theme “sports goes beyond politics” to unite people from different cultures, religions and races of the world.
(Park Young-sik is the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Nepal.)