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By Thomas Bach, IOC President
One year from now, it will be your moment to make history. When the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 finally begin, it will be a moment for Korea to amaze the world. Hosting the Olympic Games is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it opens a unique window of opportunity to write a new chapter in your sporting history.
The Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 will bring the Olympic spirit to the next generation. The Olympic spirit first came to Korea with the Olympic Games Seoul 1988, which proved to be a catalyst for the emergence of your ambitious and dynamic country on the world stage. For me, these were unforgettable Olympic Games. At the time I was the athletes' representative on the Games' steering committee. From this time on, Korea has always had a special place in my heart.
When PyeongChang is in the spotlight next year, it will build on this legacy and show the best of a modern Korea to the world. The Olympic Winter Games 2018 will once again connect the young generation to the Olympic values of excellence, friendship, respect and fair-play. It will open up new horizons by bringing the excitement of winter sports to young people in a new and fast-growing territory.
One of the key factors of success for hosting the Olympic Games is a strong home team. The performances by the Korean athletes in the test events this season are a hopeful sign of great things to come in 2018. There is a strong support team, comprising the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee, the government and many other partners in Korea, who are taking the right steps to create optimal preparation and training conditions for all the Korean athletes to make the most of the home advantage. The official ambassadors for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, with such popular athletes like Yuna Kim, Lee Sang-hwa or Lee Seung-hoon, are already raising the anticipation for these Games and are putting PyeongChang on the map.
Hosting the Olympic Winter Games is also giving new economic impetus to PyeongChang and Gangwon Province. With world-class sport venues, brand new hotels and tourist facilities, PyeongChang and Gangneung have all the key elements in place to be the next Asian winter sport centre. The new high-speed train connection will bring the Eastern and Western parts of the country closer together than ever before. In this sense, the Olympic Games are a catalyst for transformation and development. PyeongChang now has the unique chance to make its own mark on history and everyone has high hopes that it will create its own Olympic legacy, benefiting the people of the entire region and country.
The fact that the next three Olympic Games are taking place in Asia – PyeongChang 2018, Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 – provides a historic opportunity for the three host countries to strengthen their ties based on this shared experience and in the spirit of Olympism. This is already happening with regular exchanges and cooperation between the three Organising Committees on practical operational matters of preparing for the Games. There is also a cooperation agreement in place that was signed between the sports ministers from the three countries. Through such cooperation at different levels, the Olympic experience provides the countries with a unique platform to deepen their relations and demonstrate the power of sport to bring people together. In this way, the Olympic Games can play an important part to promote friendship, peace and solidarity through sport in the region. PyeongChang has the important role to set the right tone as the first Asian host in this remarkable series. It is my hope that Korea, Japan and China will continue to build on this historic opportunity.
Like no other human activity, sport has the power to unite people, regardless of background, culture or belief. This unique unifying power is one of the most important things that sport and the Olympic Games can give us. In our fragile world today, where mistrust and uncertainty are on the rise, sport is an anchor of stability for so many people, giving us hope that our shared humanity is stronger than the forces that want to divide us.