PyeongChang is rapidly rising as the likely candidate for the 2014 bid. Partly it’s because Pyeong Chang is well financed with no doping scandal(Salzburg) and with no risk of terrorism or bad infrastructure(Sochi). Korea ( http://korea.ixs.net ) proved it’s mettle in the winter games and is the favorite to win. PyeongChang is already prequalified, given it’s strong performance in 2010 Winter Olympics selection process, where it lost by the narrowest of margins. The trainers, staff and athletes from 31 countries were impressed by the facilities during the 2007 PyeongChang InterSki Congress. Another factor that helps Pyeong Chang’s case is that this would be the first ever Winter Olympics in continental Asia, and would promote diversity and opportunity in the Winter Olympics. In a continent housing half the world’s population, Asia has lagged behind in Winter Olympic participation. Korea’s nomination should raise the interest in winter sports in this under represented continent. The factor that stacks the cards in PyeongChang’s favor is the possibility of North and South Korea competing jointly if PyeongChang gets the nomination. This “Peace and Harmony” games would be great emotional importance to the Koreans, and may very well bring about regional peace.
Salzburg was the favorite, given it’s past status as a venue for winter Olympics as well as due to the dynamic personality of Radmann who headed the bid committee. It was thought that Salzburg’s “Olympic Tradition” alone will allow it to win nomination. However, a few factors have since changed the dynamics. First of all, Salzburg just doesn’t have the financial muscle to compete with its well financed rivals. This is a very important consideration, given the facilities that are expected by the athletes as well as guests in 2014. The doping scandal surrounding Austria’s team also had a very negative effect on it’s bid. Mr. Dick Pound, who is the chairman of World Anti-Doping Agency(and just as importantly a senior member of IOC) seems to have a dim view of Austrian bid after the scandal was made public. Ironically, the very fact that Salzburg has hosted Olympics twice goes against it. The competitors are in geographical zones that have not hosted them before perhaps can argue for diversity and opportunity for others. Finally, Mr. Radmann who was very connected with the IOC has recently resigned. This is considered a set back for the Olympic bid of Salzburg.
Sochi, an underdog in the beginning of the race made it to the short list, thanks to the public relationing of President Putin. To Sochi’s credit, it is very well financed, given Russia’s wish to display it’s newly found oil wealth. However, there are reasons why it was an underdog to begin with, and no amount of spin will make these reasons go away. Sochi is wracked by power failures. There were 2 black outs two weeks before IOC’s review of the city. These were dismissed by their officials as “happens every year”. As if this improves matters! There is a lack of modern infrastructure in the Krasnador region. It may have been a fancy resort in Soviet times(by Soviet standards), but it just doesn’t compare to the standards expected in the 21 st century. Sochi just does not have the track record PyeongChang has, of hosting international meets year after year since 1997. The Sochi region is an ecological basket case already due to over exploitation. Making Sochi ready for Winter Olympics will entail tearing down national forest and exacerbating the situation. Sochi’s bid is being actively slammed by environmental groups—a fact not lost on the IOC. Furthermore, Sochi is uncomfortably close to Georgia, Abkhazia and Chechnya. The last thing the IOC will want is proximity to terrorist trouble. The IOC will have to assess risks of an area 7 years in the future, when today the security situation is dicey. While it’s true that things can become better, but it can be argued that the situation can very well become worse.
For more information visit http://korea.ixs.net/2014-winter-olympics.aspx
Jackie Gates lives a life on the move. From her childhood home in Manitoba to a two year stint in UCSD, on to a multiyear backpacking trip to North East China(dong-bei) and South Korea. Living the back packers life on a low budget was the worst of times(and the best of times). Jackie is a free lance travel writer, and an avid snow boarder. While not riding powder in Mammoth, she works as an editor of http://korea.ixs.net and http://china.ixs.net