2018 Winter Olympics given to South Korea

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has awarded the 2018 Winter Olympics to Pyeongchang, South Korea, the first time the Winter Olympics has been hosted in the country and the third time for the Winter Games to take place in Asia.

Pyeongchang has been campaigning for the honor for a decade. It finished second to Vancouver for the 2010 Games and to Sochi, Russia, for 2014. Its latest bid was based on a goal of expanding access to winter sports in South Korea and Asia generally. The organizers plan to spend billions on new facilities.

The South Korean city won on the first ballot by a landslide: it received 63 votes while runner-up Munich gained 25, and Annecy, France, tallied just 7. The balloting took place at the I.O.C. meeting in Durban, South Africa.

Pyeongchang will join Sapporo, Japan (1972) and Nagano, Japan (1998) as the Winter Games’ Asian hosts. Its budget for 2018 will be far greater than its rivals had proposed: $1.5 billion for the Games, and between $2 billion and $6 billion for infrastructure aimed at making Pyeoncghang a major winter sports hub. Another plus: all events will take place within a 30-minute drive of the city.

The opportunity to expand the popularity of winter sports in South Korea played a key role in the decision. Pyeongchang is 100 miles from Seoul, the South Korean capital, with a population of more than 10 million.

“The Olympics will benefit from returning to Asia and especially Korea, which has become a major global business center,” said Andrew Judelson, chief revenue and marketing officer for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Assocation (USSA).

Ski and snowboarding venues are located directly on outskirts of PyeongChang or nearby. And that, said USSA president and CEO Bill Marolt, “will provide a unique Olympic atmosphere. . . .“The proximity lends itself to both fans and athletes’ ability to embrace the Olympic spirit. The entire nation has put an immense amount of effort behind the bid, and we’re confident we will see the same enthusiasm during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.”