PyeongChang 2003: When Dreams Began

(ATR) This week marks the fifteenth anniversary of the IOC’s first look at a future Olympic city.

(ATR) This week marks the fifteenth anniversary of the IOC’s first look at a future Olympic city.

The IOC Evaluation Commission spent three days in PyeongChang looking at potato fields where Olympic venues would eventually be built. This first-ever bid from South Korea for the winter Olympics didn’t succeed. Vancouver won 2010 with Salzburg the third candidate. It would take two more tries for PyeongChang to bring home the prize.

Around the Rings Editor Ed Hula traveled with the commission as it trekked through the mountainous region. It took a lot of imagination to envision a Winter Games.

The former leader of the Lillehammer Olympics led the inspection. At the time, Gerhard Heiberg was the IOC member in Norway. Today he is dealing with two forms of cancer, and says his wife and doctor won’t let him travel for these Games.

Of the 11 members of the commission, only two are believed to have returned to PyeongChang in 2018. Gilbert Felli, now retired from the IOC as executive director of Olympic Games, and ex-IOC member, Willem Alexander of Netherlands. Then Prince of Orange, he returns as king and a fervent cheerleader for Dutch athletes at every Olympics.

Our look at that 2003 visit shows a very different PyeongChang. Despite new construction, the place still retains its bucolic charm.

Click here to see PyeongChang as it looked in 2003.

Reported by Ed Hula.