I’m attending the 119th IOC session, which is today to select the city to host the Winter Games of 2014. The hall in Westin Camino Real hotel in Guatemala City is filled up with about 350 attendees, among them all of the IOC members.
Sochi, Russia was the first city to present its bid. The city looks as an unique and magnificent case, as you can experience ultra mild climate in the city near the sea -‘the best holiday destination in whole Russia’- and an alpine climate in the nearby mountains, in a distance of just 50 kms. Most of the Olympic sites, including half of the stadiums, International Broadcasting Center, Main Press Center and Olympic Village are located in one place, in just 5 minute walking distance from one another. Rest of the facilities are on the nearby mountains, also very close to each other. The russians promised super fast transport infrastructure to connect these two clusters. Vladimir Putin was among the delegation members, giving significant weight on the bid and securing the needed cash flow, which would be high as none of the facilities is already constructed. After all, the presentation was high professional and well-placed, what remained to me as a summarizing thought is that they want the Games to use them as a vehicle to develop a high promising area.
Next city to present its bid was Salzburg. The Austrian city, birthplace of Mozart, has an also excellent bid to present, but with exactly the opposite characteristics. Salzburg has a very strong tradition on hosting winter events and the needed infrastructure to host even the Winter Olympics is nearly ready (8 out of 12 stadiums, hotels etc are already in efficient use). So, their major point was: no need to care about time schedules and over stretched budgets. We already have the experience and infrastructure and can focus on cultivating the Olympic spirit. But, Salzburg is also already a major destination for winter holidays in Europe, the have about 4 million tourist arrivals per year. So, my point is, why do they really need the Games? Or, how are the Games going to change or improve the life of their people?
The Korean case of PyeongChang was totally different, and the bid looked as less professional in my low-experienced eyes, no matter how positive biased was my response to their IT innovations presented. As Sochi, none of the infrastructure is already in place, but their plan was less concrete and convincing, even if they lost their last bid for just two votes four years ago. What’s more, they tried to convince the IOC members by presenting the Games as a unique opportunity to unite the yet only separated country in the world, which is indeed a great argument but I received it as a kind of blackmailing and that wasn’t actually very positive on their presentation.
So, after all I believe that Sochi will be the winner, lets find out if i am correct in a few hours.