Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) selected Pyeongchang, South Korea as host of the 2018 Winter Games today. The committee meeting in Durban, South Africa, made its selection in the first round of voting. The South Korean city won over Munich, Germany and Annecy, France after failing in two previous tries.

It was an emphatic success for South Korea after its unsuccessful applications for the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. This time its hour-long presentation to the committee focused on the sports with the theme “New Horizons” rather than geopolitical location and included South Korean president Lee Myung-bak and Kim Yu-na, the winner of the 2010 Olympic figure skating gold medal winner. On the first round of secret ballots, cast by the IOC’s 95 voting members from 76 countries, Pyeongchang received 63 votes to Munich’s 25 and 7 for Annecy.

IOC President Jacques Rogge opened the sealed envelope and made the announcement in front of the entire IOC membership and the representatives from the three candidate cities. A loud cheer erupted from the Pyeongchang detachment, as they jumped up, hugged each other, and waved South Korean flags.

The host for the Winter Olympics was awarded on the first ballot in 1995 to Salt Lake City, Utah for the 2002 winter games, the last time the host was selected on the first ballot. Only twice before have the Winter Games been awarded to a country in Asia, both times to Japan.

The 2016 Summer Games have previously been awarded to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which will be the first South American city to host the games. Sochi, Russia was selected in 2007 for the 2014 Winter Games, giving Russia its first hosting of the Winter Games.

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