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2018 Winter Olympics Awarded to PyeongChang

Pyeongchang_Candidate_City_2018Exuberant cheers could be heard from Durban to PyeongChang today as IOC President Jacques Rogge announced the South Korean city as the official host of the 2018 Winter Games from the 123rd IOC session currently running in South Africa.

This was the third attempt for PyeongChang in attempting to secure hosting duties for the Winter Olympics.

"Koreans have been waiting for 10 years to host the Winter Games," bid leader Cho Yang-ho told The Associated Press. "Now we have finally achieved our dream."

The final vote gave PyeongChang 63 of the 95 votes cast; Munich, Germany and Annecy, France, the other two finalists received 25 and 7 respectively.

2018 will mark the second time South Korea hosts the Olympics and the first time for a Winter Games. The capital city, Seoul, played host to the 1988 Summer Olympics.

For the Asian Continent, 2018 will be the sixth time it welcomes the world for the Games (Summer - Tokyo: 1964; Seoul: 1988; Beijing: 2008; Winter – Sapporo 1972, Nagano 1998)

Coming into today’s highly anticipated announcement, PyeongChang was thought to be the favorite, but only by a slim margin over the 1972 Summer Games host city of Munich. While the experts could not perfectly handicap the winner from those two cities, there was agreement that Annecy, France, was clearly running third.

PyeongChang is located roughly 80 miles east of Seoul on the Korean coast.

Each of the three cities, as is typical of the bid process, leveraged their heavyweight national icons to sway the voting. PyeongChang’s entourage was headlined by Olympic Figure Skater, Kim Yu-na along with Choung Byoung-gug, minister of culture, sports and tourism for the country.

Munich commissioned the likes of Katarina Witt, a famous figure skater in her own right, and the legendary footballer, Franz Beckenbauer, the man who brought the 2006 (football) World Cup to Germany. The country’s Federal President, Christian Wulff, joined those two German sporting icons in Durban.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon took the place of French President Nicolas Sarkozy in representing Annecy, France, a town situated in the Alps. France last hosted the Olympics for the 1992 Albertville Games.

The entire bid process began almost exactly two years ago, as 14 cities were initially considered for hosting duties. The list was pared down to today’s three finalists in October 2009 – the lowest number of finalists since 1988.

-Ryan O'Leary

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