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Muju is Not Suitable for the Winter Olympics

Posted December. 15, 2004 23:01,   


It is highly likely that Pyeongchang in Gangwon province will be selected as the domestic candidate for the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS), the International Ski Federation, after inspecting Muju in Jeonbuk province twice, concluded in an official document sent to the Korean Ski Association on December 15 that it would not accept Muju as the bid city for the Winter Olympics according to international environmental standards, as an excessive topographical change will be needed in order to develop ski slopes on Mt. Deogyu.

Jeonbuk and Gangwon agreed three years ago that Muju would take priority in its bid for the 2014 Games. In return, the city yielded the bidding for the 2010 Games to Pyeongchang. However, as Muju failed to meet the international IOC facility standard, which is a precondition for being a bid city, the agreement is highly likely to be nullified.

Meanwhile, Han Gye-su, the governor of Jeonbuk provincial political affairs, said in a press conference that the provincial authorities would not accept the FIS’s decision.

Reasons for Muju’s Disqualification Announced by the FIS-

As Mt. Deogyu is only 750-800m above the sea, just several areas can be developed into ski courses, and the link between those areas is not natural. Excessive environmental damage is expected if the provincial authorities aim to secure the minimum slope width required to descent and Super Glant Slalom. Therefore, Muju cannot meet the facilities standard to host the Winter Olympic Games, as well as other major international sporting events like the skiing world championships and World Cup.

Protests from Jeonbuk Province-

Jeonbuk provincial authorities said, “The inspection conducted by the FIS was about facility standards. But the report only offers tests on environmental effects without any information on facility standards. It is suspicious that there might have been an invisible force behind the inspection.” The authorities also added, “It is unfair that the report cited that only Jeonbuk province was unsuitable for the Games, even though environmental damage is inevitable for Gangwon province too if they want to develop their planned descent course in Jungbong on Mt. Gariwang. The authorities are planning to respond to the decision after watching the developments of the situation.

What Lies Ahead-

The Korea Olympic Commission (KOC) is scheduled to convene a standing committee meeting on December 21 and a general meeting on December 29 to conclude the selection of a domestic candidate for the host city of the 2014 Games by year-end. Lee Yoon-jae, Secretary General of the Korea Sports Council, predicted that the FIS is very determined about its decision, and therefore the decision is not likely to be reversed or suspended.

But if Jeonbuk province’s complaint over the wording of the report is accepted, the KOC could put the issue to a vote in its general meeting.

A total of 12 countries, nine from Europe, one from North America, and two from Asia, are bidding for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will select the host city in its 2007 general meeting in Guatemala.

Hwan Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com