GANGNEUNG, February 13, 2018 - South Korea completely understands what it means to be ‘third-time lucky’. This is because the phrase clearly defines their reality as hosts of the 2018 Winter Olympics and attaches enormous significance to the ongoing Games.
There was an inspiring photo exhibition at the Gangneung City Mall on Monday which highlighted this journey of perseverance in the most beautiful way possible.
Tagged “The Best Moments in IOC, ANOC, and Korea Sports History”, the event which was sponsored by Korea Sports Press Union (KSPU) and the International Sports Press Association (AIPS), showcased 57 historical photos taken by renowned Korean sports photographer Kim Min-Jae.
According to KSPU president, Hee-Don Jung, “The exhibition shows that Korea has succeeded in hosting the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games after three tries. We failed twice and the third time we won, so these photos show what we have done to host the games. It has also portrayed how much we had longed for the games so I would say this is how we love the winter games.”
To signal the official opening of the exhibition, high-profile dignitaries present were called upon for the ribbon-cutting; the Mayor of Gangneung City - Choi Myung Hee, Chief of coordination commission for PyeongChang 2018 - Gunilla Lindberg, President of PyeongChang Organizing Committee - Lee Hee Beom, Member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from North Korea - Chang Ung, Honorary Advisor of PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee, AIPS President - Gianni Merlo and KSPU president/AIPS Asia first Vice President - Hee-Don Jung.
Chang Ung’s arrival at the venue attracted the most attention from journalists as it further underlined PyeongChang 2018’s theme of peace that has so far projected a unified Korea. Even as it is hoped that this Olympic spirit be long-lasting, Lindberg expressed delight at the tangible legacy of the games.
“Once an Olympic city always an Olympic city. For a small place like this, I hope the world will discover PyeongChang and Gangneung because they are wonderful places to be and the legacy also is of course the railway and the high-speed train and the new highways they have here and the venues that will be transferred into sports centres in the future,” she explained.
For an event of just 17 days, PyeongChang has gone through three consecutive bids with its first failure coming in 2003 when it was knocked out by Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games. It was dealt yet another blow when Sochi got more votes to host the 2014 edition. Then came the 123rd IOC Session held on 6 July 2011 and PyeongChang was finally announced as host of the 2018 Winter Games.
“Never give up,” Lindberg declared even as she added that “it is very rare that you win the first time you are a candidate.”
Hee Don added: “It was not easy you know but Korean people really wanted to host. Finally 2011 we succeeded we were very happy. Korea traditionally has been strong in skating and figure skating but these times we invested a lot of our energy to broaden the basis of Korean sports now we are doing very good in bobsleigh and even skiing so I believe this Olympics will be a kind of a turning point to upgrade our winter sports to the global level.”
The AIPS Asia first Vice President believes that South Korea are now a model for countries that want to improve their national image and upgrade their national identity through sports.
“Now I can say that Korea is an elite country in global sports. We hosted 1988 Summer Olympics, 2002 Football World Cup where we reached the final four and now we are having Winter Games in our country.”
Kim Min-jae, the official photographer of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), is the brain behind the photo exhibition and he gifted photo frames to some of the VIPs during the event including AIPS President, Gianni Merlo. He is the first sports photographer to ever receive the ANOC medal and he has been taking pictures at the Olympics and other major sports competitions since 1983. He has also held photo exhibitions in Seoul, Osaka, Los Angeles and Sydney.
The Mayor of Gangneung received an appreciation plaque from KSPU and AIPS for being an amazing host while there was a sculpture of the International Olympic Committee President, Thomas Bach who could not make it to the event.
Renowned tenor Kim Byung-oh delivered his opening ceremony performance to close the show.
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