Faster! Higher! Stronger! – PyeongChang 2018!
The 2018 Winter Olympics is fast approaching. Officially known as the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, this year’s event hopes to create a new era for the world of winter sports. Spectators from around the world are filled with excitement, and athletes from every part of the globe are ready to descend on PyeongChang for 17 days of competition. However, before we look at the prospects for the forthcoming event, let us take some time to look at the history of the games and how it all began!
The Olympic Games began around 3,000 years ago in the southwest Greece town of Olympia. However, the Olympics laid dormant for thousands of years before being revived in the late 19th century. Since the Olympics revival, the Games have become the world’s pre-eminent sporting competition.
Originally, the Games were part of a religious festival. The Greek Olympics, thought to have begun in 776 BC, were the inspiration for the modern Olympic Games; which began in 1896. The Games were held in honour of Zeus, king of the gods, and were staged every four years at Olympia. People from all over the Greek world descended on the valley near Elis to watch and take part in the events.
The Olympics In Ancient Greece
Participation in the ancient Olympic Games was initially limited to freeborn male Greek citizens. There were no women’s events, and married women were prohibited from attending the competition. The purpose of Olympic Games was for young men to show their physical qualities and to enforce the relationship between the various Greek cities.
The first recorded Olympic champion was Koroibos. A cook from Elis, Koroibos won a 600 foot running race known as the ‘stadion race’. The stadion track at Olympia is shown here. According to early literary records, this was the only athletic event of the Games for the first 13 Olympic festivals or until 724 BC.
From 776 BC, the Games were held in Olympia every four years for nearly 12 centuries. They were held between August 6th and September 19th. Their influence was so great that ancient historians began to measure time by the four-year increments in between Olympic Games. This time period became known as Olympiads.
From Ancient to Modern
Although the ancient Games were staged in Olympia from 776 BC through 393 AD, it took 1,503 years for the Olympics to return after becoming dormant. The first modern Olympics were held in Athens, Greece, in 1896. The man responsible for its rebirth was a Frenchman named Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937). Dedicated to the promotion of physical education, the young Baron became inspired by the idea of creating a modern Olympic Games after visiting the ancient Olympic site.
In November 1892, at a meeting of the Union des Sports Athlétiques in Paris, Coubertin proposed the idea of reviving the Olympics as an international athletic competition held every four years. Delegates from 34 countries were so enthralled with the concept that they convinced him to begin the Games in 1896 and have Athens serve as the first host. Two years later, he received the approval he needed to found the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which would become the governing body of the modern Olympic Games.
The Olympic Flame
The idea of the Olympic torch, or Olympic Flame, was first inaugurated at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Although the original Olympic Games did not feature a torch relay, the festivals in Athens did. This influenced the decision to add it into the modern Olympics. The controversial 1936 Berlin Olympic Games were the first to institute the torch relay.
PyeongChang 2018 with be the 23rd Winter Games and will be the second time the Olympics have occurred in South Korea. The country previously hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.
PyeongChang is a county in Gangwon Province, South Korea. The Korea’s main ski resorts in the area, Alpensia and Yongpyong, will host many of the events. Alpensia is the location of the main Olympic Village. It will host the ski jumping, luge, bobsleigh and cross-country skiing events.
Meanwhile, Yongpyong, renowned as one of Asia’s better ski resorts, it will host the downhill slalom events. The ceremonies will be held in a purpose-built temporary stadium about two kilometres from Alpensia. PyeongChang will be the stage for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and most snow sports. Alpine speed events will take place in Jeongseon, and all ice sports will be completed in the coastal city of Gangneung.
Vision of the Games
The hope is the Winter Games will create a sustainable legacy for the Gangwon Province and the South Korean peninsula as a whole. To do this, there have been four horizons and goals created. The vision behind this year’s Games is to launch the four new horizons in Korea. The horizons fall into four key areas including cultural, environmental, geographical and economic.
The Olympic Games and its organizers have laid out goals it hopes to achieve with this year’s events. Organizers want Pyeongchang 2018 to be the first Olympics without language barriers. In addition, industries such technology and tourism are expected to receive a boost from the Games.
Slogan – ‘Passion, Connected’
The slogan refers to a world in which everyone relates to a shared passion for winter sports. An open world to all generations, anywhere, anytime. The slogan’s concept was also inspired by the dream to open new horizons in the continued growth of the Winter Games.
Where the Earth meets the Sky- the symbol ‘ㅍ’ represents the first consonant of the first syllable of PyeongChang in the Korean alphabet. In Hangeul, it expresses the harmony of heaven, earth, and man. Meanwhile ‘ㅊ’ depicts the first Korean consonant of the second syllable of PyeongChang and represents snow, ice, and winter sports athletes.
Athletes taking part in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 will compete in 102 events in 15 sport disciplines. Snow sports include alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, nordic combined, ski jumping, and snowboarding.
The ice sports will contain five disciplines including short track speed skating, speed skating, figure skating, ice hockey, and curling. Lastly is sliding sports with three disciplines. The slide sports include bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton.
Six new events will make their Olympic debuts in 2018. Snowboard big air (men, women), speed skating mass start (men, women), curling mixed doubles and the alpine skiing team event will be added to the programme.
The Games will be the first ever Winter Olympics with over 100 gold medals. Most of all, PyeongChang 2018 will be the stage for the greatest number of women’s and mixed events in the history of the Olympic Winter Game.
The Official Mascot
The official mascot for PyeongChang 2018 is Soohorang. Meaning protection in Korean, ‘Sooho’ symbolizes the protection offered to the athletes, spectators and other participants at the 2018 Games. ‘Rang’ comes from the middle portion of “Ho-rang-i,” the Korean word for “tiger,” and is also the last part of “Jeong-seon A-ri-rang,” a cherished traditional folk song of hostsite Gangwon.
The Asiatic black bear or “ban-dal-ga-seum-gom” (the bear with a half-moon mark on the chest) symbolises strong willpower and courage in Korean folklore. “Banda” is derived from “ban-dal,” the Korean word for the half-moon. “Bi” stands for the celebration of the Games.
Medals for Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 were inspired by Hangeul (medal), Hanbok (strap), and Hanok (case), which are unique cultural aspects of Korea. These three elements are uniquely Korean and set the country apart from its Asian neighbors.
Korea has planned long and hard for the Winter Olympic Games. The country and its people are waiting with open arms to welcome the world into the country. The 1988 Summer Games and 2002 World Cup opened Korea up to the world like never before. The Winter Games will once again put the country at the forefront of the sports world when the games begin on February 9th.
Whether you’re in Korea or not, we all do have a part to play in promoting a successful event. Athletes, aspirants, commentators and spectators… … “Let the games commence!”
Feature Image Source: ©PyeongChang 2018 Open Question, Reuters, 8th Dec. 2017, www.thedailybeast.com