Third time lucky!? PyeongChang's bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics–politics, policy and practice

Udo Merkel, M. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In July 2011, the International Olympic Committee awarded PyeongChang the right to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. This means that within two decades South Korea will have staged three mega sport events: the Summer Olympics in Seoul in 1988, the Soccer World Cup (together with Japan) in 2002 and the Winter Olympics in 2018. Whilst the bidding for the Seoul Olympics was fairly straightforward, the tendering for the FIFA World Cup was much more competitive and ended with a compromise as the most convincing applicants were asked to co-host this mega event. PyeongChang's successful bid is partly the result of considerable stamina, as it was, in fact, the city's third consecutive attempt to secure this event. This paper offers a detailed account of PyeongChang's three consecutive bids, focusing on the underlying local, regional and national policies, the agendas and influence of different stakeholders and the lessons learned from previous bids. The paper will also explore the political significance and future challenges of this decision for the divided Korean peninsula. The wider context of this article is, of course, the increasingly competitive bidding for mega sports events and the murky role of sport's international governing bodies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2365-2383
Number of pages19
JournalThe International Journal of the History of Sport
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2011


  • South Korea
  • North Korea
  • 2018 Winter Olympics
  • bidding
  • mega events
  • PyeongChang


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