Games of New Horizons
by Thomas Bach, IOC President
It only seems like yesterday that we were celebrating a world united by sport in peaceful competition at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. The magic of Olympic sport on snow and ice, the unforgettable performances by the athletes and the wonderful hospitality of the Korean people will live on in our hearts forever.
These were truly Games of new horizons, and the one-year anniversary is an opportunity to look back at these great moments and at the Games’ legacy.
The Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 were a success story in so many respects. From the sporting achievements and the athletes’ experience to the excellent organisation, these Games opened up new horizons in more ways than anyone could have imagined.
The Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 were a success story in so many respects.Thomas Bach IOC President
The best expression of this was the joint march of the athletes of the National Olympic Committees of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the Opening Ceremony. They entered the Olympic Stadium as one team, united behind one flag, the Korean unification flag.
This moment, of course, did not happen by chance. It was the result of a long process of negotiations and high-level government engagement by the International Olympic Committee that began back in 2014 and lasted until a few hours before the Opening Ceremony.
With these powerful symbols in PyeongChang, we saw how the Olympic Games can open the way to dialogue, how the Olympic values can open the way to a more peaceful future. It is our hope that this door to a more peaceful future on the Korean peninsula will remain open. The IOC is committed to continuing to support the ongoing political peace talks on the Korean peninsula through sport. Sport must continue to build bridges and show what it can do to bring people together.
The Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 were also the Games of new horizons for many more reasons. The unforgettable performances of the athletes were what made these Winter Games a fantastic success from a sporting perspective. We saw Olympic legends confirming their status, and we saw new stars rise and take their place in Olympic history. The athletes were able to amaze us with their achievements only because they found top-class venues and state-of-the-art facilities in PyeongChang and Gangneung. The Olympic Village was one of the best we have ever seen. The athletes gave back this appreciation with their performances.
A record number of National Olympic Committees took part in PyeongChang. There was the highest-ever participation of female athletes at an Olympic Winter Games. New events were introduced, appealing to a new generation of winter sports fans. Digital technology enabled more people in more countries to follow these Olympic Winter Games in more ways. The PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee has achieved a budget surplus from the Games.
All Koreans can be very proud of all these, and many more, great outcomes. Now the country has the privilege and responsibility of carrying the legacy of these Games into the future, and of inspiring the next generation with the Olympic values.
One year on, the legacy of the Games is already visible. Take the high-speed rail link which now connects Seoul with the Alpensia mountain region and Gangwon province. The infrastructure legacy also includes the apartments of the Olympic Villages. They were sold out well before the start of the Games. The new hotels built for the Games are now adding accommodation capacity and improving the tourism infrastructure of Gangwon Province. A wind energy farm now provides sustainable wind energy for the region.
The recent decisions taken by the Korean government will ensure that there will be a lasting Games legacy. Plans are underway for the competition venues, including continued operations for the six venues that were in existence prior to the Games. These are positive steps, and the IOC will insist that sustainable solutions for the remaining outstanding issues are found to ensure the legacy of the Games.
Building on the great success of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, everyone in the Republic of Korea has every reason to look to the future with confidence and optimism. In the Olympic spirit of friendship and solidarity, my thanks go to our gracious hosts, the Korean people, for everything you do to keep the Olympic spirit alive long after the Olympic flame of PyeongChang 2018 was extinguished. Your warmth and hospitality will always remain in my heart.