Asian Games to power Incheon’s global profile
By Na Jeong-ju
Incheon’s hosting of the 2014 Asian Games will not only increase its profile as a fast-developing international city but also be an opportunity to boost the local economy, city officials say.
The bustling port city on the western coast was chosen as the host of the 2014 Games in a meeting of the Olympic Council of Asia in April, 2007, becoming the third South Korean city to host the event after Seoul in 1986 and Busan in 2002.
By the sheer number of athletes and competition, the Asian Games are an even larger event than the Olympics and are expected to have a significant impact on the regional economy and the country’s international recognition, making it much more than just a sporting event.
“Through the Games, our infrastructure including subways, roads and communication networks will be expanded, and the brand value of Incheon will increase, enabling it to attract more international investments to the Incheon Free Economic Zone,” a city spokesman said.
“We have three years to make the 2014 Games the most successful Asiad ever, and that would require a high level of cooperation between the city government, policymakers, the corporate sector and citizens.”
The country’s experience in hosting international sporting tournaments and cultural events would certainly help the preparation for the Asian Games.
The government hopes to create a synergy effect in the fields of cultural content, sports marketing and tourism.
“Korea hosted all premier sports events such as the Olympics, the FIFA World Cup and the Asian Games,” said Lee Yun-taek, president of the organizing committee. “The 2014 Games will be something that shows Incheon’s uniqueness as a global city.”
Incheon wants to make it a festival for all Asians.
For that, the city plans to hold a series of cultural and academic events along with the sport games to establish 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 Incheon official said.
Under the Vision 2014 program, Incheon is seeking to help athletes from countries that have not won medals by providing training grounds and knowhow so that they can get a better chance for winning medals in Incheon.
Among 45 Asian member countries, 12 countries have not won a gold medal yet and three countries did not get a single medal.
Through the project, which has been underway since 2008, the city has invited rising stars of the selected countries, sent excellent coaches and built sports facilities and equipment.
Stadium under construction
The main stadium, being constructed on a budget of $429 million, will be completed by June 2014.
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 sources, such as solar heat and terrestrial heat, as well as state-of-the-art information technologies.
In addition, seven sports facilities that will be used for swimming, volleyball, tennis and bowling are now under construction.
The athletes' village will provide 4,500 rooms to accommodate some 20,000 players, reporters and other officials.