South Koreans Celebrate Successful Bid to Host 2018 Winter Olympics

Posted July 6th, 2011 at 8:05 pm (UTC-5)
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South Koreans celebrated victory Wednesday in their bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics with fireworks, cheers, screams of delight and tears.

Residents of the resort city of Pyeongchang were ecstatic at the news that their city had been chosen over Munich, Germany and Annecy, France. Pyeongchang won an outright majority in the International Olympic Committee's balloting, which was held in Durban, South Africa, earlier Wednesday.

Crowds had gathered at a ski venue in Pyeongchang to await the decision.

In Durban, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak said the news was a victory for all South Koreans. He shook hands with a teary-eyed Kim Yu-na, the South Korean figure skater who is the reigning women's Olympic figure skating champion. Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Lee had delivered a rare speech in English to persuade members of the IOC to vote for Pyeongchang.

The head of South Korea's bid committee, Cho Yang-Ho, said it was one of the happiest days for his country.

Pyeongchang was bidding for the winter games for the third time, after close defeats in bids for the 2010 and 2014 winter games .

Pyeongchang won an outright majority in the first secret ballot held Wednesday, getting 63 of the 95 votes cast. Munich received 25 and Annecy got seven.

Munich, which was the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics, was hoping to become the first city to host both the summer and winter Olympics. Disappointed Germans suggested that sympathy for South Korea's persistence played a role in its victory.

There was less disappointment in the French mountain resort of Annecy, which did not expect to win.

Pyeongchang's winning campaign before the IOC emphasized that returning the Olympics to the region would help promote winter sports in Asia. Japan is the only Asian nation to have previously hosted the winter games, having done so in Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998.