Host City: Why did Gwangju decide to bid for the 2019 FINA World Championships?
Dr Cho: The city of Gwangju had hosted a few major international sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup quarter-final and the 2015 Universiade, so we wanted to build this image as the sports city of Korea.
As a legacy of the Universiade we had the international standard swimming pool. We wanted to utilise this venue but at the same time wanted to build further the city brand. So that’s why we decided to host this World Championships.
Host City: What impact do expect hosting the Championships will have on the city?
Dr Cho: We have a bigger vision than just impact on the city itself. Gwangju is the central city and the pillar of democracy, peace and human rights of South Korea. That’s why we wanted to let the spirit of Gwangju into the championships and chose our slogan “Diving into Peace”.
Through the Championships, all the initiatives will come together to create peace-building in the Korean peninsula, in South East Asia and further.
Host City: To what extent will the North and South Korean teams join during the Championships?
Dr Cho: There are three phases. The first one will be the participation of North Korea.
After that we are going to seek a joint ceremony, such as maybe marching together.
And after that, if the condition allows, we will try to create a unified team. All possibilities are open at the moment.
We had a unified ice hockey team at the PyeongChang Olympics, but I think we have more favourable conditions than that because we have even more preparation time to discuss creating a unified team. And also, there is a good atmosphere building between North and South Korea; so things are working very favourably for us.
Right now, we are not thinking specifically about what events we want to host. However, we want to strongly be positioned as the sports city of Korea; that is why after this we want to open our eyes and see what events are possible for us to bring to Gwangju.
Host City: Why is Gwangju focusing on sports specifically for its development?
Dr Cho: Firstly, Gwangju is the central cultural hub of Asia. When you talk about culture there are two major strands: one is art, the other is sport. Because of that, we think that when we bring sports events to Gwangju it’s going to create synergy with the arts, to really promote our city as the central hub of culture in Asia.
The second point is that we want to promote the value of the city, what we are good at, through sports. Because that is one of the easiest ways for us to really promote the merits and values that the city has.
The third point is that Gwangju is really building an industrial base for the fourth industrial revolution – for example, robotics, AI and IoT. We also want to promote that idea through sports.
Gwangju has a high concentration of energy industries. We want to create a revolution in renewable energies and our industries through sport.
At the same time, we have an automotive industry base in Gwangju. This industry is moving towards the fourth industrial revolution and we want to promote this idea through sports events.
Host City is Event Development Partner of SportAccord 2018