July 01, 2011 09:44
Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na and taekwondo gold medalist Moon Dae-sung, also a member of the IOC Athletes' Commission, have helped reinvigorate Pyeongchang's bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. Since they lodged their support behind the campaign, the city has enjoyed a more dynamic and youthful image than in previous years.
As Kim, 21, is supporting Pyeongchang's bid and figure skating legend Katarina Witt, 46, is serving as chairperson of the organizing committee for Munich, the two rival campaigns are being presented as a contest between different generations of skating queens.
Witt, who picked up two Olympic gold medals in 1984 and 1988, visited the site of the 2011 Asian Winter Games in Kazakhstan in January to drum up support for the German city.
Meanwhile, Kim got the ball rolling in May when she made a presentation on Pyeongchang's behalf at the technical briefing of the candidate cities in Lausanne, Switzerland. She said that staging the Winter Olympics in the South Korean city would inspire young athletes by showing them that anything is possible, and used anecdotes from her own life to illustrate her argument.
The foreign media covered Kim's every move in Lausanne, while many IOC members visited the Pyeongchang booth and showed keen interest in being photographed with her. Members of the committee noted that the "Kim Yu-na effect" would be of benefit to the bid.
Moon, who is also traveling outside of Korea to drum up support for Pyeongchang, has met IOC members in person to persuade them of the merits of its case. After the technical briefing in May, he chose to directly contact the members at various world cities instead of returning home, while being careful to stay within the regulatory parameters established by the IOC.
"The distance he traveled by plane to gain support for Pyeongchang was roughly the same as if he had circled the earth four times," said one source close to Moon.
Moon and Kim will fly to Durban in South Africa, the venue of the IOC General Assembly, on July 2 to make their final arguments for the city ahead of the vote on July 6.
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