VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Away from the slopes and rinks of the Vancouver Games, another competition is quietly taking place: for an Olympics still eight years away.
Representatives from Annecy, France; Munich, Germany; and Pyeongchang, South Korea, have come here to push their bids to host the 2018 Winter Games.
Vancouver gives the cities a chance to observe the organization of the games and to start getting their message out to IOC members, international sports federations and the media in a campaign still in its early stages.
The candidates must submit preliminary plans to the International Olympic Committee by mid-March, and the IOC executive board will meet in June to confirm the official bid cities. The full IOC assembly will select the host city by secret ballot at its session in Durban, South Africa, on July 6, 2011.
On paper, Pyeongchang is the early front-runner as this is the city’s third straight bid after narrow defeats to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics and Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Games.
The South Koreans paint their bid as offering a new winter sports mecca in Asia, noting that the continent has hosted only two Winter Games, both in Japan – Sapporo (1972) and Nagano (1998).
Pyeongchang’s bid is based around the Alpensia ski report in what officials claim would be the “most compact games in history.”
Munich, which hosted the 1972 Olympics, is trying to become the first to city to stage both summer and winter games. The ice events would be held in Munich and snow competitions in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, about 80 kilometers (49 miles) away.
Annecy – a picturesque lakeside town in the shadow of Mont Blanc and the Savoy Alps – got off to a late start in the bid process but has moved into full swing with 1992 Olympic moguls gold medalist Edgar Grospiron as its leader.