With a few days left until the long-awaited PyeongChang Olympics, spectators and competitors alike are accelerating preparations for the event. Hosting an Olympic event carries much significance: spurring the local economy, demonstrating national capacity, and grabbing a chance to show the world how much potential its own athletes have. As Korea attempted three times over a span of eight years to obtain the honor of hosting the Winter Olympics, the nation is now trying its best to not let its chance go to waste.
“I remember that years ago, my friends and I were screaming when the 2018 Winter Olympics host nation was announced,” Jenny Oh (10) said. “At that time, the year 2018 sounded too far away, but now the Olympic games are going to be held in only a few weeks. I am so excited because I will actually be able to go watch the games in my home country which is a pretty uncommon experience.”
Events such as speed skating and short track have traditionally been Korea’s medal winning categories; on home grounds, the athletes are anticipated to perform even better, adding to the hype for the upcoming games. At the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics G-100 Media Day event held on Oct. 31, 2017, athletes competing in the aforementioned sport events asserted their determination and confidence. According to Yonhap News, speed skating gold medalist Sang-Hwa Lee stated that “there is definitely less pressure compared to the previous Sochi Olympics” and that she will “use other minor skating events that take place before the Olympics to train herself.”
“I am a figure skater myself, so the fact that the Winter Olympics will take place in Korea really means a lot to me,” Helaine Lee (11) said. “Of course, I am excited about other events such as speed skating, but my focus is primarily on figure skating events. After the unprecedented success of Yuna Kim, many rising youth athletes such as Dabin Choi and Haneul Kim are now demonstrating potential to do as well or even better than her.”
The Olympics administrative committee has also made efforts to elevate the quality of the PyeongChang Olympics. Even though the event itself is named the PyeongChang Olympics, events will take place in neighboring cities such as Gangreung and Jungsun as well—a situation that has occurred in previous hosting nations. However, the committee has taken steps to ensure that venues are conveniently close to each other, thus receiving laudatory comments from the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of France and Britain that the PyeongChang Olympics seems to be an “athlete-friendly” event, according to News1 Korea.
“I am so glad that the nation as a whole seems to be much more enthusiastic about our Olympics than it used to be before,” Curtis Lee (11) said. “I was worried that national political scandals and our situation with North Korea might bring down the work of our country and taint the reputation of our hard-earned event, but now, I’m hearing much more good news compared to bad news. Train tickets and merchandise are being sold out, and the athletes sound very prepared in their interviews. I sincerely hope the 2018 Olympics will be a huge success.”