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South Korea to Host 2018 Winter Olympics

South Koreans celebrate
Jung Yeon Je/AFP/Getty Images

Pyeongchang beats out Munich and Annecy, France in its third bid to host the Games, which will air on NBC.

The South Korean city of Pyeongchang will host the 2018 Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee announced Wednesday in Durban, South Africa.
 
The three contenders were Pyeongchang, Munich and the French city of Annecy. IOC president Jacques Rogge said Pyeongchang achieved an outright majority in a first round of voting by the 95 IOC members. Pyeongchang received 63 votes, Munich 25 and Annecy seven.

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Comcast's NBCUniversal last month bested ESPN and Fox to earn the U.S. rights to televise to televise these Games as well as those in 2014, 2016 and 2020 for $4.38 billion. There is a 13-hour time difference between Pyeongchang and the East Coast of the U.S.

South Korea has never hosted a Winter Olympics (it hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul) and noted in its bid that the Winter Games had only been to Asia twice before, both in Japan (in 1972 in Sapporo and 1998 in Nagano). The city had twice before narrowly failed to win over the IOC and has been building new venues, including a new Olympic Stadium.

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“Pyeongchang 2018 is a national priority of the Korean government and has been so for the last 10 years,” South Korea President Lee Myung-bak told IOC members.

“I guarantee you the full and unconditional support of the Korean government,” Lee said. “We will make you proud.”

The city, located about 110 miles east of Seoul, is home to Woljeongsa and a number of other Buddhist temples. Hundreds of South Koreans who gathered in front of a giant TV screen in the alpine town roared with excitement  after watching Rogge open an envelope and announce Pyeongchang as the host.

Munich, which hosted the 1972 Summer Games in which Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian terrorists, was trying to become the first city to host both the summer and winter event.

German President Christian Wulff and former elite athletes Franz Beckenbauer from soccer and Katarina Witt of ice skating were part of that nation's bid team.

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Annecy, the French alpine holiday center, leaned on its winter sports traditions in its bid, notably the ski resort of Chamonix, hosts of the first Winter Games in 1924.

Reuters contributed to this report.