Incheon Asian Games Will Be Festival for All
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Incheon is taking the 2014 Asian Games it will host as an opportunity to showcase itself as a global city with a huge potential, its chief organizer says in an interview.
"Korea hosted all premier sports events such as Olympics, World Cup soccer championship and Asian Games," said Lee Yun-taek, president of the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee (IAGOC). "The Incheon Asian Games will be something that shows Incheon's uniqueness as a global city."
Lee was the former president of the Korean Olympic Committee as well as the co-chairman the Korean World Cup Organizing Committee for the 2002 World Cup Korea Japan.
Korea had held Asian Games for two times previously ― Seoul in 1986 and Busan in 2002.
Incheon is located some 37 kilometers west of Seoul and selected as the venue of Asia's quadrennial sports event in April 2007. The Korea's third largest city is home to Incheon International Airport and Songdo International City.
"Sports are the main event card of the Asian Games. For the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, we not just want to highlight Incheon and Korea but also make it a festival for all Asians," Lee said.
For that, the Incheon Games' package includes cultural and academic events along with the sport games.
"We have to shift the idea of Asian Game to become a festival for everybody for all 45 member nations," Lee said, stressing the importance of establishing a common identity of Asia. "There are many countries, languages and religions in Asia and some of them are heterogeneous to each other. Asians takes up to two third of the world's population and we have to deliberate on what the identity of Asia is," the IAGOC president said.
Lee takes one of programs he is preparing as part of an effort to promote harmony among Asians.
"Vision 2014 is aimed at helping athletes from countries that have not won medals by providing training grounds and knowhow to help them get a better chance for winning medals in Incheon," he said. "The Incheon Games is going to be a place of harmony for all Asians," Lee said.
Among 45 Asian member countries, 12 countries have not won a gold medal yet and three countries did not get a single medal.
The Vision 2014 program is a seven-year program with $20 million budget that has been underway since 2008. Incheon invited rising stars of the selected countries, sent excellent coaches and built sports facilities and equipment.
"We are embracing small countries so they can win at least a medal," he said. "When Korea won the first medal in the Olympics, it was published in textbooks. If the country we helped gets a medal, they will always remember Incheon and Korea as their friendly nation."
The main stadium will be completed by June 2014. It has a budget of 496 billion won ($429 million). It will be built on a 172,000 square meter site for 72,000 seats with 40,000 of them detachable, meaning the space can be used for other purposes than seats after the 2014 games.
The stadium is going to use eco-friendly energy, such as solar heat and terrestrial heat, as well as state-of-the-art information technologies (IT).
Seven sports facilities such sports as swimming, volleyball, tennis and bowling will get under way.
The athletes' village will provide 4,500 rooms to accommodate some 20,000 players, reporters and other officials.
Besides the athletes' village, Incheon is trying to secure enough accommodations for visitors during the Games. Currently, there are 44 hotels and some 850 motels in the port city and the city plans to construct seven more by the time when the Games opens.
The IAGOC is also training public servants and athletes of Incheon to prepare them as hosts of the Games.
The total of 450 are now learning seven major languages of Asian countries, including Russian, Arabic, Malay-Indonesian language, Vietnamese, Mongolian, Hindi and Thai, to work as better operators of the Games.
Among them are 114 players of 38 sports who will work as staffs to be assigned to sports venues.
Incheon will receive the Asian Games flag at the closing ceremony of the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games in November.