Olympic cities · PyeongChang · PyeongChang 2018 · Winter Olympics

Who’s Carrying a Torch this Year?

The 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang is getting closer and closer–the kick off is just a few months away with the torch relay. Although plans for the relay were revealed a few months ago, we thought it would be good to revisit them because our Olympic Fever is starting to build up again.

Traditionally, the start of the relay marks 100 days to go before the Winter Olympics, but this one’s going to be 101 to “signify the opening of a new chapter for the Olympic Games,” according to the plan infographic.

Huh? I’m not quite sure what that means, but I’ll be honest–if host cities are starting to expand this event much like the Games keep expanding, it’s soon going to not be worth the effort. Torch creep could mean that by 2028, we’ll see the relay start a year ahead of time–and believe me, while it could generate a little more excitement in that moment, by the end of the relay, no one will care. We’ll all have torch fatigue by then.

But for now, we’ll have one extra day of it, and we’ll have to see what this new chapter of Olympic Games is all about.

It all kicks off in Olympia on October 24. Then the flame flies to South Korea to make a 17 city and province journey around the country. 7,500 lucky people will have the honor of being torch bearers.

 

Olympic cities · Olympic venues · Sarajevo 1984 · Winter Olympics

Old Venues, Not Dead Venues

Because it’s an Olympic year–and because Rio 2016 had budget problems–we had to go through another round of Venue Talk: They’ll Never Be Used Again (What a Waste of Money).

It’s a topic that I understand is very true, but it’s also one that I think is a little blown out of proportion. Sure, there is a real problem with massive venues built for the Olympics and then never (or rarely) used again, but there is a lot of venue reuse–or, venues being brought back to life.

Case in point, the bobsled and luge track in Sarajevo. Just Google “abandoned Olympic venues” and you’ll invariably see the carnage from the 1984 Winter Olympics, which war brought about.

Unfortunately, those articles will stick around in web searches (and other bloggers are going to find them and repost them), and they might still supplant this news: The 1984 bobsled and luge run is back in action (sort of).

The Associated Press has reported that a bunch of volunteers have spent the last few years cleaning up the track and repairing it so that it’s usable as a training facility. At first, the goal was for Bosnians to be able to do their summer training on it, but word’s gotten out and now it’s becoming a regional training center because the original track is one of the best in the area.

To me, that’s the Olympic spirit at work. Don’t give up–keep at it until you achieve victory. Even though the reports are that the facilities are still pretty grim (e.g.-no bathrooms), it’s really remarkable that the luging community in Bosnia saw an opportunity and is making something happen.

The article notes that other facilities are coming back as well (or are in the planning stages of coming back). Let’s hope that some of the other abandoned facilities around the world can get life breathed back into them as well.

Know Your Host City · Olympic cities · PyeongChang

GTKPC: So Much K-Pop!

While we’re getting to know PyeongChang, we also have to get to know K-Pop, Korean pop music, which is super-infectious and fun to listen to. Last month, the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization hosted the 2018 PyeongChang K-Pop Festival–which was held in Seoul, actually–to help the world get to know modern Korean culture.  Let’s take a look at some of the performers:

 

The Wonder Girls have a pretty complex history, with members coming and going, injuries and health issues, and even a long hiatus. This song is “Why So Lonely” off their 4th album, which came out earlier this year.

 

WSJN also goes by Cosmic Girls and released their first mini album earlier this year. This group is enormous–13 people who are grouped into four units called Wonder, Joy, Sweet and Natural.

K-pop’s not all girls…you’ve got the boy bands too! Here’s Boys Republic:

And SHINee:

Catchy stuff, right?

Know Your Host City · Olympic cities · PyeongChang

GTKPC: Seoul Far Away?

I was perusing the PyeongChang 2018 bid book today, as I really wanted to talk more about Korea’s geography–in particular the mountains, since a good chunk of the Olympics relies on skiing or jumping down them. Well, then I fell into a huge rabbit hole because (a) the Korean Peninsula is generally covered with mountains, and (b) PyeongChang is located in the Greater Baekdu Mountain Range, which I’m learning is a big deal to the country, so I really want to research that a bit more and give it its proper due.

However, a different tidbit I picked out of the 2018 bid book [and mind you, the 2018 Games was PyeongChang’s third attempt at getting the Winter Olympics] was that the Organizing Committee plans to use Incheon as the main airport for welcoming the athletes.

Quick look of the map. Incheon’s on the other side of the country!

One might think, Man, that’s kind of a haul to cross through most of the country. Surely they have another major airport that’s closer!

Well, apparently my American is showing. The bid book notes that it only takes three hours by car to reach PyeongChang from any city in South Korea. And it’s just one hour by rail from Seoul. Three hours! You can probably get from the West Coast to the East Coast in four, five hours at the most! Compare that to the US, where it takes about four hours to get from Boston to New York City, and that’s just one small corridor of the country. For the record, the journey from Boston to New York City by train is also about four hours, due to lack of high speed rail capability.

This means that for those of us who live in a larger country in terms of land mass, we’re going to have to get used to a completely different outlook in terms of geography. It’s the complete opposite of the last Olympics in Sochi, which is in the largest country in the world. Getting to the other side of the country meant you were in for the long haul.

Not this time. This has certainly got the potential to be fun–especially if you actually go to the Olympics–because it makes the country a little easier to explore. Perhaps this Olympics will not only show off this region, but the rest of the country in general.

Know Your Host City · Olympic cities · PyeongChang · PyeongChang 2018 · Uncategorized

PyeongChang: Let’s Get to Know You!

We’ve got a little over a year to go before the next Olympic Games, which take place in PyeongChang, South Korea, and that means we’ve got plenty of time to get to know our next host city.

Each week until the next Olympics, we’re going to write a post about some aspect of the host. If you have suggestions for posts or burning questions, let us know, and we’ll try to address them.

First off, let’s talk about the name itself. The “PyeongChang” that you’re going to see everywhere is a rebranding of the name. Yep. The original spelling was Pyongchang, which is mighty close to Pyongyang, capital of everyone’s favorite dictatorship, North Korea. Add an “e,” capitalize the “c” and voilá! You have a brand-new city that is definitely not the same. Because you know some people are going to make that mistake and wind up in a very wrong place.

[Seriously, though, if North Korea wanted to have a little fun with the world, they should create some sort of plywood Olympic facade to greet people when they got out of the airport so they’d never notice the difference. See our authentic Olympic venues? Go on, go in! There’s no labor camps behind them!]

Back to our real host place. PyeongChang is a county (gun) in Gangwon province (do), so you might hear or see these referred to as PyeongChang-gun and Gangwon-do. That just specifies the county/province.  [To add more confusion, North Korea also has a province pronounced the same way, but its English spelling is Kangwon. And it borders Gangwon-do. The only thing that would make this a more Bizarro World situation is if Pyongyang was in this province, but it’s not. According to Ganwon-do’s provincial website, the two provinces used to be one, but are now divided due to the war.]

Gangwon-do is in the northeast corner of South Korea. It’s got coastal access to the East Sea (aka Sea of Japan), is on the DMZ, and it’s also home to the Taebak Mountains, the Alps of Korea–in fact, many of the Olympic skiing events will be at Alpensia Sports Park, which is in PyeongChang-gun. Ice-related events will be east of this cluster in Gangneung, a separate city that’s closer to the coast of the East Sea . Two other venues hosting skiing events will be west and southwest of Alpensia in Bongpyeong-myeon (a township) and Jeongseon-gun.

PyeongChang 2018 boasts that its events are all within 30 minutes of Alpensia. How far is that from Seoul? It’s 182 km southeast of the country’s capital. According to a CNN article, that’s three and a half hours by car, but the country’s working on a high-speed train line that will make the journey a little under an hour.

Hopefully that gives you an idea of where in the world the Olympics will be in 2018 and what the media are talking about when they talk about PyeongChang.

 

 

2020 · IOC · Olympic cities · Tokyo 2020

Tokyo’s Getting Real

Given that everyone in Olympic Land is thinking about the 2024 bids, since the process’ next milestone is tomorrow, it’s also kind of convenient that Tokyo’s managed to pipe up and say, Excuse me, but we think this is really going to cost us a lot, and we’d to start managing costs now.

You may be aware that one of the big arguments that critics of the Olympics have is that they cost too damn much and they eventually become too much of a burden on host cities. I can’t argue with that. I love the Olympics, but I really don’t understand how the IOC can continue wanting Games the way they want them. It’s as if they think host committees are funded by some magical trust fund full of Old Money and that they can keep tapping it to maintain the lifestyle to which they are accustomed.

Unfortunately, real life doesn’t work that way, and Tokyo’s finding that they’re in a bit of a bind. A bind that involves poor spending, under budgeting, and construction costs that have already spiraled out of control.  Like a fourfold increase in the budget out of control. And this isn’t the first time they’ve had to scale back, according to the Japan Times, it’s the third. That says a lot about the stupid amount of money the IOC expects cities to spend on building venues and having everything just so (and the Japanese do “just so” extremely well).

The organizing committee’s come up with a list of options so that they can save a few (billion) yen, so now Tokyo’s getting ready to get real with the IOC. And the IOC–and some of the sports federations–don’t particularly like real talk.

Inside the Games reports that IOC President Thomas Bach says the IOC and Tokyo 2020 are going to talk about Tokyo’s budget issues in a “constructive way.” That’s a nice, diplomatic way to put it–and honestly, the IOC is full of very diplomatic people.

Here at The Feverr, we’re not so diplomatic. So we’re going to imagine this future conversation and translate it from diplomacese to English for you:

Tokyo 2020: Hey, Thomas! Tommy! How’s it going? How’s the family?

T. Bach: Eh, everyone’s fine. But I hear something’s wrong with your budget. What’s up with that?

Tokyo 2020: Yeah, well, we’ve got some egg on our face, but we’ve really got to cut some costs now, or we’re going to be way in over our head. Like suicide watch over our head.

T. Bach: But you promised us certain venues.

Tokyo 2020: We know, our dude, but construction is expensive, especially since Fukushima. We didn’t know how much of a crimp in our side a tsunami and nuclear disaster was going to be.

T. Bach: I understand, but do you know how promises work?

Tokyo 2020: Yeah, Tommy, but things change over time, and we’d like you to change with us.

T. Bach: We have standards.

Tokyo 2020: We get that–and we’ll meet your standards–but we’re just going to have to do it another way.

T. Bach: I’ve heard from my buddy JC over at World Rowing. He doesn’t like the proposed changes.

Tokyo 2020: (mutters under breath about JC and rowing)

T. Bach: What was that?

Tokyo 2020: Oh, nothing. Look, we get that JC and the gang over at World Rowing aren’t thrilled about being moved a few kilometers out of the city, but–

T. Bach: A few hundred you mean.

Tokyo 2020: Right, but no big deal, you know? We’ve got a great venue there, and that’ll free up some money so that we can get that new stadium built.

T. Bach: But JC says the Sea Forest is the best site for his sport.

Tokyo 2020: JC says. JC says! Look, JC can’t see the Sea Forest for the mother-effing kelp, you dig? We don’t have the money to build it anymore!

T. Bach: Can’t you find some? Start selling t-shirts or something.

Tokyo 2020: We are. But it’s not going to be enough because we’re probably going to overpay for construction or have some corruption or hire some consultants that don’t do much. Not to mention make everything super fancy for every time the IOC comes over.

T. Bach: We have standards.

Tokyo 2020: We get that Tommy, we do. And we get that a lot of people are going to be disappointed, but if you don’t work with us, we might just tell you to shove your Olympics. Where you gonna be then? Rio? Like their venues will still be functional! London? Oh, right. A lot of their venues were temporary. And are now gone. How about Beijing–or better yet, use Athens!

Tokyo 2020 laughs maniacally.

T. Bach: OK. I hear you. We’ll talk and get back to you. Hey, can you put aside some of that whiskey I like for the next time I visit?

Tokyo 2020: Yeah, sure thing, my friend. [Hangs up the phone] Whatever.

 

 

 

 

 

Montreal 1976 · Olympic cities · Olympics

Montreal 1976-2016 in Pictures

As a follow-up to my last post about Montreal, I wanted to share a bunch of pictures I took of Olympic Park and the exhibits I visited this month.

The park itself is a really cool place today. In looking at pictures of the original open field that had a couple of smaller venues and what it has become in the Olympic Park, I think Montreal has developed a really interesting, vibrant area of land that generates a good amount of traffic. Even though the stadium is a massive boondoggle, the rest of the park is worth exploring–there’s an urban garden, some tennis courts, and a funky outdoor café among other things.  It seems like the city is really trying to keep it in good shape and find ways for people to use it. In fact, the World Skateboarding Federation announced this past July that a new skatepark is in the works for Olympic Park.

This concept of ultra-expensive Olympics contrasted with the legacy the Games leave behind is something I want to continue exploring in this blog. Look for more posts on Olympic cities and the impact of the Games on them in the future.