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South Korea's Olympic effort to win an Olympic bid

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Billboards proclaiming "Pyeong­chang 2018/New Horizons" greet visitors as their buses twist and turn through the countryside leading to the sweeping slopes where most of the Olympic-quality sporting infrastructure is already in place, just waiting for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to proclaim Pyeongchang the winner this July.

"New Horizons expresses ... the growth of Olympic sports in Asia," says Lee Ji-hye, a woman from the Pyeong­chang winter Games bid com­mittee, showing a visitor around the first of three proposed sites.

It's a complex called Phoenix Park, owned by the Bogan Group, which is a subsidiary of Korea's largest conglomerate, the Samsung empire. Samsung's chieftain, Lee Kun-hee, happens to be a member of the 110th International Olympic Committee making the final decision.

The Pyeongchang committee seems to have considered every angle Korea will need to win the vote, but they're up against two of Europe's legendary winter sports settings: Munich, Germany, offers the snow and ice of nearby Garmisch; and the picturesque French town of Annecy is near Mont Blanc, the most famous peak in the French Alps.

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The 14-member IOC evaluation team, which visited Pyeongchang in February, had a reception of an intensity that most had not seen before – townspeople cheering, musical groups at the base of every slope, live coverage on Korean TV. Gunilla Lind­berg, chair of the committee, was impressed.

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