123rd IOC Session, Durban 2011, South Africa
Exclusive to Examiner
Which city will host the 2018 Winter and Paralympic Games?
Will it be Munich (Germany), Annecy (France) or PyeongChang (South Korea)?
None are letting up in their frantic campaigning and relentless pitching in the 11th hour countdown to the announcement of who will win 2018 gold.
The bidding cities — each is pitching a separate and unique vision — have brought in heavyweight surprises. In the case of Germany, 2006 World Cup boss and erstwhile soccer star Franz Beckenbauer.
“The race to host the 2018 Winter Olympics is too close to call,” Bavaria’s prime minister Horst Seehofer, in Durban to support Munich’s bid, said today.
Munich is considered to be running a close second to PyeongChang, with Annecy — they have a giant air-conditioned tent complete with bar and coffee lounge set up outside the Suncoast Casino on the Durban beachfront for press conferences — widely regarded as the rank outsider.
Seehofer said at a news conference today that it was too early to predict a winner. “Even as an experienced politician I wouldn’t dare make a prediction,” he said, adding, “I haven’t even met anyone prepared to bet on the result.”
But he believed Munich’s bid would be strong enough to secure the city its second Olympics. The city hosted the 1972 Summer Olympics.
“ … our bid is well conceived and, despite all the tension, we are relaxed ahead of tomorrow’s presentation,” he said.
How Olympics Helped End Apartheid
Meanwhile at a special International Olympic Committee (IOC) lunch in Durban today South African President Jacob Zuma acknowledged the Olympics movement for its contribution to the struggle against apartheid. “The Olympics movement is special in this country given the solidarity we received in 1964,” he Zuma. He acknowledged the IOC for banning apartheid South Africa from participating in the Tokyo Olympics — a ban that was to span 32 years.
PyeongChang — Favored to Win in “Lucky” Durban
And at a bulging press conference at Coastlands Hotel on Durban’s Ridge last night (Monday) — where crumpets and cream scones were served — Korea’s Minister of Sport, Culture and Tourism, Byoung-Gug Choung, said he and his bidding team regarded Durban as a lucky city. He and the rest of his team felt being in Durban augured well for the PyeongChang bid.
He said his country had an affinity with Durban.
First, it was in Durban, in 1974, that Korean Soo Hwan Hong claimed the World Boxing Association’s bantamweight title at Westridge Park stadium when he beat then-champion Arnold Taylor of South Africa in a 15-round fight.
Then, 36 years later, Durban became a city of hope for South Koreans when the Korean football team drew 2-2 with African powerhouse Nigeria in the final group match to reach the second round of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It was the first time a team from his country had reached the knockout stage of the World Cup on foreign soil.
He also said the fact that it was they were making a third consecutive bid represented “third time lucky.”
But, he stressed, they weren’t just relying on good fortune. He also highlighted the importance of his committee’s ‘New Horizons’ vision.
“At the heart of PyeongChang’s bid for the 2018 Winter Games is the desire to help the Olympic Movement and winter sport expand to new regions of the world. We call this simple yet powerful vision, “New Horizons”.
“It would be our honor to … help the Olympic Movement and the world of winter sports by hosting the first Winter Games in Korea, and only the third Winter Games in Asia.”
A Winter Games in PyeongChang would help stimulate the growth of winter sports to new areas and spread the positive message of Olympism to a new and young generation, he said.
They had already built several facilitites, had plans on how to recycle them, and they had close to full support from the entire nation for hosting the games.
Tonight, (Tuesday), security will be at its peak when South African President Jacob Zuma officiates at the formal 123rd IOC Session opening ceremony at the Durban Playhouse.
Tomorrow, each of the three candidate cities will give its presentation, still secret at this point, followed by a press conference.
Munich will go first, followed by Annecy and then PyeongChang. The announcement of the winner will be made after the final vote of the IOC evaluation commission. Then will be the celebratory reception.