The Winter Olympics are going back to the Far East.
After two heartbreaking near-misses, Pyeongchang was named the host city of the 2018 Winter Games, winning in the first round of voting at the IOC bid meeting in South Africa. The South Korean city defeated Annecy, France, and Munich, Germany, in the vote.
Twice before, the South Korean city had come up short in bids to win the Olympics. Pyeongchang won the first two rounds of voting in 2010 and 2014 before being narrowly defeated on a second ballot by Vancouver and Sochi, respectively. It entered Wednesday's vote as the favorite, a position which hardly guaranteed a victory given the IOC's penchant for surprises.
Those past votes, plus the fact that a win for France or Germany would have meant putting the Winter Games back in Europe for the fifth time in eight Olympics, gave Pyeongchang the status as a clear frontrunner. The power of the bid was confirmed when the city won on the initial vote, the first time that's happened since 2001. Pyeongchang earned 63 votes compared to 25 for Munich and seven for Annecy.
Given those circumstances, two European cities going up against an Asian country was like a Democrat challenging Barack Obama in next year's primaries. Not even the IOC could screw up this decision. Going to Pyeongchang was the easy call.
It's the first time a Winter Olympics will be held in South Korea. The 1988 Summer Games were held in the capital city of Seoul.
Japan has hosted two Winter Games, in 1972 in Sapparo and in 1998 in Nagano. South Korea's victory is bad news for that country, which had been considered a favorite to win the 2020 Summer Games. It's unlikely the IOC would go back to Asia for back-to-back Olympics.
Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-Na was in Durban, South Africa, for the announcement. The greatest living figure skater will be 27 when the flame is lit in South Korea. She was a key component of Pyeongchang's bid, though it's unknown whether she'll still be competing at that time.
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