The world's top Olympic official on Thursday hailed the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games as "a success story in so many respects" on the occasion of the event's first anniversary.
"From the sporting achievements and the athletes' experience to the excellent organization, these (PyeongChang) Games opened up new horizons in more ways than anyone could have imagined,"
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said in a statement.
Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the first Winter Olympics to be held on South Korean soil. Bach highlighted in particular the participation of North Korea, along with the joint Korean march at the opening ceremony on Feb. 9, 2018, and the formation of the unified Korean women's hockey team.
"With these powerful symbols in PyeongChang, we saw how the Olympic Games can open the way to dialogue, how the Olympic values can open the way to a more peaceful future," Bach said. "It is our hope that this door to a more peaceful future on the Korean Peninsula will remain open. The IOC is committed to continuing to support the ongoing political peace talks on the Korean Peninsula through sport. Sport must continue to build bridges and show what it can do to bring people together."
Bach also noted that a record number of countries, 92, took part in PyeongChang, and there was also the highest-ever participation of female athletes at a Winter Olympics.
"New events were introduced, appealing to a new generation of winter sports fans. Digital technology enabled more people in more countries to follow these Olympic Winter Games in more ways.
(PyeongChang) has achieved a budget surplus from the Games," Bach went on. "All Koreans can be very proud of all these, and many more, great outcomes. Now the country has the privilege and responsibility of carrying the legacy of these Games into the future, and of inspiring the next generation with the Olympic values."
|Gangwon Province Governor Choi Moon-soon speaks at a ceremony held to mark the one-year anniversary of the PyeongChang Olympics in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)|
Bach said the legacy of the Olympics is visible in places away from the competition venues, citing new hotels and the high-speed railway that was built for the Olympics and which connects Seoul with PyeongChang and other regions in Gangwon Province on the east coast as examples.
Bach added that the South Korean government is taking steps to ensure the continued use of Olympic venues and said, "Everyone in (South Korea) has every reason to look to the future with confidence and optimism." (Yonhap)