Reflections and information on PyeongChang, home of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

I am an Olympics junkie. From the Opening Ceremonies to the Closing Ceremonies and everything in between- I don’t miss much! And though our family rarely watches TV- for about 2 weeks every 2 years our TVs literally run 24/7. I take comfort in knowing I’m not alone in this obsession! However, all I could think as I watched the coverage from PyeongChang this weekend is- where is everyone?!?!

Early in my life I got a first hand look at everything involved with the Olympics. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. After our city got announced as the host for the 1996 Summer Olympics, excitement and anticipation were off the charts. I saw the planning, effort and innovation that went into hosting such a prestigious world event. And I even had the extraordinary privilege of attending several events. I feel extremely blessed to have experienced such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. However, I’m also looking forward to “next time.’

Every couple of years as the Olympics roll around, I weigh the possibility of attending. I seriously considered attending the Summer games in London in 2012, but the birth of my son made that idea less feasible. Since then, the locations have been a tad unappealing for safety reasons. In 2014 Sochi, Russia hosted among politically driven security concerns. And then in 2016 the world flocked to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during a health crisis, the Zika Virus. Though in my opinion, neither risk held a candle to the current Olympic host city- PyeongChang, South Korea.

Located just a short 60 miles from the North Korean border, the city sits ever so close to one of the world’s volatile hot spots. Known for being under communist rule, the nuclear ambition of it’s leaders have isolated it from much of world. As reported by one travel expert (Brian Peters, CEO of Bucket List Events) “I think people are too fearful about North Korea, but to be honest it’s not a great tourist destination to begin with.”

While I won’t disagree, I strongly believe these athletes deserve to have fans in the stands!

Personally, I’m finding it hard to watch the empty seats on TV. In fact, during some events it seems as though the only people in attendance cheering are the athletes themselves and a smattering of coaches. It’s been reported that ticket sales have only been between 45% and 55% for every event. It’s truly a shame they can’t pluck people off the street to at least fill the seats. (But they’ve yet to call and ask my opinion!)

Regardless, I love to use the Olympics as a Worldschool opportunity for my children (selfishly, it makes me feel just a bit better about having our TV on all hours of the day/night!) We have our world map out on the coffee table and the kids are taking turns locating the athlete’s home country as we watch them compete. Additionally, we’re doing a study on PyeongChang and the Winter Olympics.

Here are some fun facts we’ve learned:

  • PyeongChang is the first city in South Korea to host the Winter Olympics. The country previously hosted the Summer Olympics in Souel in 1988.
  • It took 3 application processes for this city to eventually win the bid to host the Olympics (beating out Annecy, France and Munich, Germany.)
  • This is the smallest city to host the Olympics in 24 years (population size just under 44,000.)
  • 92 countries are participating in the 2018 games, which sets a record.
  • 84% of PyeongChang’s territory is covered by mountains. This makes it particularly ideal for all of the alpine events.
  • The mascot for these games is a white tiger named Soohorang. Korean mythology believes it’s a symbol of protection.
  • South Korea is now the 8th country to host both a Summer and Winter Olympics.
  • The 35,000 seat Olympic Stadium was built just for these games and will be torn down following the Paralympics.
  • South Korea is 14 hours ahead of EST.

 What is your favorite Olympic Sport to watch?

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