In 2018, the Republic of Korea will host the XXIII Olympic Winter Games. This will be the second time that the country commonly known as South Korea will welcome the world’s greatest athletes, having previously hosted the Games of the XXIV Olympiad in Seoul in 1988. Only one other Asian country has ever hosted the Olympic Winter Games, with Japan given the honour in 1972 (Sapporo) and 1998 (Nagano).
The Games will open on February 9, continuing through to February 25.
PyeongChang earned the right to host the 2018 Olympic Winter Games on July 6, 2011, earning 63 votes to beat Munich (25) and Annecy (7) in the first round of voting. It was the third time that PyeongChang had bid for the Winter Games, previously finishing second to Vancouver for 2010 and Sochi for 2014.
In recent years the region has shown itself capable of hosting major winter sporting events. In addition to some competitions of the 1999 Asian Winter Games, future Olympic venues have welcomed the world championships for curling, short track speed skating and biathlon. World Cup, Continental Cup and continental championships in alpine skiing, ski jumping and figure skating have also been successfully hosted.
The Republic of Korea occupies the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, sharing a border with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north. With a population just under 50 million, South Korea is the 25th most populous country in the world. Nearly 10 million of those people live in the capital city of Seoul. Gangwon Province in which PyeongChang is located has a population of more than 1.5 million.
The official language of the country is Korean, although English is widely taught in school. South Korea runs on Korea Standard Time, which is 14 hours ahead of Eastern Time.
The venues for the ice sports will be clustered in the Gangneung Olympic Park. The Gangneung Curling Centre was the only pre-existing venue, having previously hosted many international events, including the 2005 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, the 2008 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships and the 2009 WCF Women’s World Curling Championships.
Two new ice hockey venues, the Gangneung Hockey Centre and the Kwandong Hockey Centre, were newly constructed, along with the Gangneung Oval for long track speed skating and the Gangneung Ice Arena for both figure skating and short track speed skating.
Most of the snow and sliding sports will be clustered in the Alpensia Sports Park. The Nordic events (cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, biathlon) as well as the sliding sports (bobsleigh, skeleton, luge) will take place at the Alpensia Resort. The Alpensia Sliding Centre will be new, but the resort has already hosted several international competitions in the other sports, including the 2009 IBU Biathlon World Championships at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre and Continental Cup ski jumping meets at the Alpensia Jumping Centre. The Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre is also a pre-existing venue.
The technical events of alpine skiing (slalom, giant slalom) will be held at the existing Yongpyong Alpine Centre, which has previously hosted FIS World Cup events. The Mountain Cluster will also include the Olympic Stadium for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies as well as the Medal Plaza.
Just outside the Alpensia Sports Park, the alpine skiing speed events (downhill, super-G) will be held at the newly constructed Jeongseon Alpine Centre while the freestyle skiing and snowboard events will take place at the existing Bokwang Snow Park.