Lee Says Backing From China’s President Crucial For PyeongChang

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SEOUL, July 19 – President Lee Myung-bak said Tuesday that backing from China’s president was crucial in helping the South Korean alpine city of PyeongChang win the right to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Lee made the remark during a lunch meeting with the heads of five major state branches, briefing them on the outcome of his trip to Africa that included his successful campaign in South Korea’s third consecutive attempt to bring the Winter Games to PyeongChang.

“Chinese President Hu Jintao’s expression of support was critical. Japan’s support was also helpful,” Lee told the meeting’s participants — the parliamentary speaker, the Supreme Court chief justice, the Constitutional Court president, the prime minister and the National Election Commission chief.

“I heard that Asian International Olympic Committee (IOC) members had a meeting on the eve of the vote” and agreed to back PyeongChang, Lee said, according to senior presidential spokesman Kim Du-woo.

Lee also said a Senegalese member of the IOC offered him advice last year that South Korea should try to win the minds of Asian IOC members, especially those from China and Japan, saying that otherwise PyeongChang would lose again.

PyeongChang, which lost to Canada’s Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics and then to Russia’s Sochi for the 2014 Games, won a resounding victory over Munich, Germany, and Annecy, France, in an IOC vote held in the South African port city of Durban on July 6.

It received 63 votes, followed by Munich with 25 and Annecy with seven.

“When we lost in the first and second attempts, we were less united. But this time, we were united very tightly and worked together,” Lee said. “I was encouraged to see us getting united and felt that our national fortunes will prosper in the future.”

Lee also said South Korea should try to make PyeongChang a tourist attraction after staging the Olympics so as to help it contribute to the national economy.

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