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Athens News Agency: News in English, 03-06-30

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Feature -Underdog PyeongChang hopes to bring Winter Games to Korea
  • [02] Weather Forecast: Sunny start then storms on Monday
  • [03] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday

  • [01] Feature -Underdog PyeongChang hopes to bring Winter Games to Korea

    30/06/2003 13:29:11

    PYEONGCHANG (ANA H.K. Tzannis) ?Yes PyeongChang!? is a catchphrase that has reverberated throughout the sparsely populated and mountainous province of Gangwon, in the extreme northeast corner of South Korea, over the past few weeks. ''Olympic fever'' is the reason.

    Its a rally cry some would say even a ?polite demand? -- for recognition that local officials and residents, from the governor on down to the last school pupil, want to emphasize on July 2 half way around the world in Prague. Thats where the International Olympic Committees (IOC) 115th session will be held, and where the host city of the XXI Olympic Winter Games in 2010 will be selected.

    PyeongChang is among the three cities bidding for those Winter Games, and by accounts, the feisty ?underdog? in the race.

    ?Yes PyeongChang? are nevertheless two words the South Koreans want to definitely hear in Prague from the IOC, and if enthusiasm and conviction were the only criteria, they would probably be celebrating in advance.

    And no, PyeongChang is not ... Pyongyang! as officials from the citys 2010 bid committee ceaselessly declare to the world. Pyongyang is the capital of reclusive and downright bellicose North Korea, a pre-eminent ''member'' of what Washington has termed the ?axis of evil?.

    PyeongChang, along with the verdant surrounding ski and leisure resorts that hope to host the 2010 Winter Games, as locals tirelessly point out, is South Koreas tourism ?Mecca? and one of Asias foremost winter sports destinations, something organizers have repeated again and again over the past several months of serious globetrotting. There's a world of difference between the two, and PyeongChang organizers have gone to great lengths, and travel, to point this out.

    Facing Vancouver and Salzburg, in Austria, the energetic Koreans appear optimistic that the IOC will heed their oft-repeated advantages of promoting winter sports in Asia and also aiding reconciliation between the two Koreas. A stern commitment by the central government to back efforts, ?no-matter what?, is also part of PyeongChangs promotion.

    As it stands today, scenic Gangwon province is separated into north and south, and PyeongChang 2010 candidate-city organizers hope a Winter Olympics on the peninsula will facilitate efforts to reverse a half-century of division. Thats a lofty goal, and one that contains equal portions of hope, challenge and also risk.

    ?In think the other countries involved, including the United States, hope to resolve the issue (of tensions between the west and North Korea) peacefully,? Gangwon Governor and bid committee executive president Kim Jin-sun says. ?In any case, we will not go into any situation that could be of concern. There are tensions, but PyeongChang should be given the opportunity, as these Games can aid efforts towards (Korean) reunification.?

    Hes also quick to point out that the secretive regime in the north has publicly supported the holding of the Games in Gangwon province and PyeongChang.

    ''Support'', in the case, could well be interpreted as ''behaving'' -- i.e. no nuke development and ballistic missile testing -- so that rival South Korea pulls off another major organizational success in the world of international sports similar to its holding of the 1988 Seoul Games and the joint hosting of the 2000 World Cup.

    As far as the Lausanne-based IOC is concerned, all three of the candidates could stage ?very good? Games, a relevant evaluation report stated as much last Spring. Its also no secret that Vancouver appears as the favorite heading into the Prague session, thanks to a spotless review. Salzburg also, banking on the incomparable Austrian tradition of alpine sports and world-class venue sites, would be a stellar choice.

    What PyeongChang bid executives stress, however, is the challenge of again bringing the Winter Games to the massive Asia market, as well as adding the ?Olympic Movements? hefty political weight on the scales of Korean rapprochement and reunification. Aside from a few IOC observations over budget estimates and traditional lodgings, organizers are also convinced that their planning for venues, accommodation, transports and infrastructure is, in typical South Korean style, immaculate and wholly attainable.

    Below are a few questions the ANA directed to PyeongChangs organizers, including bid committee Chairman Gong Ro-myung, as well as the subsequent answers.

    -- How do you (the PyeongChang organizers) hope to attract visitors from outside Asia should you win the 2010 Games? Or, is the emphasis mainly on attracting residents from throughout Asia?

    ... through our ?Dream Program? (bringing youths from countries with little or no tradition in winter sports to PyeongChang), our youth camps and other programs to develop winter sports in Asia.

    -- Do you have a target for the number of volunteers needed during the 2010 Games? If so, where will these volunteers be housed?

    The number of volunteers will be approximately 20,000, but those will be from neighbour regions, like Wonju, GangNeung, PyeongChang, Jeongsun etc., so we don't have any problems in terms of accommodations, as prospective volunteers live ?in the neighbourhood? and can come and go a daily basis.

    However, the PyeongChang Bid Committee will still prepare two youth hostels, two condominium complexes, and one family hotel for the local volunteers convenience, so there will be 7,890 rooms volunteers.

    -- Would you agree that PyeongChang is an 'underdog' vis-a-vis the other two candidate-cities? If so, are you comfortable with this position?

    ... We will do our best to the last minute.

    What are the final estimates for infrastructure projects such as the new 130-kilometre railroad, for instance?

    Railroad construction will be completed by 2009, and the total amount will be US$ 2.24 billion, a (specific R/R) budget also supported by the central government.

    -- Would PyeongChang vie for the 2014 or 2018 Winter Games if passed up by the IOC for 2010? Or, is this not an option?

    PyeongChang is already recognized and approved by the IOC Evaluation Commission as being able to host Olympic Winter Sports. With enough reason to hold the Olympic Games, we believe the IOC will consider us as the host city. We believe PyeongChang will win the bid.

    [02] Weather Forecast: Sunny start then storms on Monday

    30/06/2003 10:46:14

    Sunshine is forecast in all parts of the country, turning to isolated storms or showers on the mainland from afternoon. Winds north-northwesterly, moderate. In the north, temperatures will range from 19C to 34C; on the rest of the mainland from 22C to 37C; and in the islands from 23C to 35C. Temperatures in Athens will range between 24C and 37C; and in Thessaloniki from 22C to 33C.

    [03] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday

    30/06/2003 10:45:48

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank

    U.S. dollar 1.150

    Pound sterling 0.695

    Danish kroner 7.486

    Swedish kroner 9.256

    Japanese yen 137.8

    Swiss franc 1.557

    Norwegian kroner 8.339

    Cyprus pound 0.590

    Canadian dollar 1.557

    Australian dollar 1.730

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