Poland, Ukraine win Euro 2012 in different sense
By Kim Se-jeong
Last Monday at the Polish Ambassador’s residence, Spanish Ambassador Luis Arias Romero to Korea became an instant celebrity.
“The Spanish team’s performance was state of the art,” was one of many attributed to Spain’s final game in the UEFA’s 2012 European
Football Championship. The Spanish team crushed Italy 4-0 to take the cup home.
Poland together with Ukraine hosted the championship.
It was Ukraine’s first time in the tournament, Poland’s second, and neither of the two made it anywhere close to the finals.
Yet, as Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Marmazov said, both countries got what they had wanted: the opportunity to promote their countries.
Marmazov said that the football event gave Ukraine a chance to “open our country” to football fans who watched the game on TV or who went to Ukraine to see the games in person.
Krzysztof Majka, the Polish ambassador, echoed his Ukrainian colleague, proudly citing a survey conducted by the Public Opinion Pools Agency in Poland.
“Ninety-two percent of people positively assessed the atmosphere in the stadiums; 85 percent gave a high rating to overall
organization in all Polish cities; 92 percent of foreign visitors declared that Poland is a beautiful country and will recommend it to others as a tourist destination; and 80 percent of them claimed that they will themselves visit Poland again in a short time.”
There is little doubt that a sporting event has potential positive effects for a host nation. Korea’s relentless attempts to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province prove the high value attached to international sporting events.
Korea eventually won the bid to host the 2018 winter games, which will make it the third major international sport event held in Korea after the 1988 Summer Olympic Games and the 2002 Korea-Japan FIFA World Cup.
An article headlined “A Precarious Brilliance” that appeared in The Economist last week, observed despite economic slowdown and dwindling influence in international politics, London and Britain will enjoy their best year this year, referring to the 2012 London
Summer Olympics which will open later this month.
“It’s not just the increase of tourists and economic figures,” said Prof. Chun Byung-kwyan who teaches psychology of sports at Kyunghee University as to what the event contributes.
“I believe there is no better way to promote your country’s products and image than (through a sporting event).”
Data on how the 1988 Summer Olympic Games and the 2002 World Cup impacted the Korean economy is unclear, though. Korea Tourism Organization’s statistics showed mixed results. In 1988, the number of foreign tourists to Korea jumped 25 percent from the previous year and by 17 percent in 1989. Yet in 2002, the increase was only 3 percent, followed by a 12 percent drop in 2003.
A former Judo athlete said, “(After the 1988 Olympics) the perception of Korea abroad totally changed. People remembered the games and mention ‘88.’”