DURBAN Pyeongchang of South Korea won the right to host the 2018 Winter Olympics on Wednesday with a crushing victory in the vote by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over rivals Munich of Germany and France's Annecy.
IOC President Jacques Rogge announced Pyeongchang's victory at the IOC's session in Durban after just one round of voting.
Pyeongchang polled 63 votes to 25 for Munich and a mere seven for Annecy, a totally unexpected margin of victory.
It will be the first time a Korean city has staged the Winter Games and only the third time it will have been held in Asia.
"This is one of the happiest days for our country, our people and millions of youth dreaming of winter sport," Pyeongchang bid chief Cho Yang-ho told Reuters seconds after the announcement. "We have been waiting a long time for this."
The Pyeongchang delegation in Durban cheered and chanted "Korea, Korea" after Rogge announced the verdict.
Rogge told Reuters: "I was surprised by the fact that it was a one-round vote. We expected two rounds. I was surprised by the margin. Patience has been rewarded."
Pyeongchang narrowly missed victory in each of the last two Winter Olympic votes, losing out to Vancouver of Canada for the 2010 Games and to the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi for 2014.
Each time they had led on the first round of voting by IOC members but failed to gain a majority and lost out on the second round.
The Koreans put in a determined bid, stressing their virtues of perseverance and patience, and employed their country's President Lee Mying-bak and Olympic women's figure skating champion Kim Yuna to persuade and charm the IOC.
Lee told Reuters: "It feels great. I will make a statement a little later."
The Munich bid team issued a statement saying: "Of course we are disappointed because we came here to become the host of the 2018 Winter Games.
"But the IOC has decided to award this honor to another candidate and because we are a sporting team, we accept this decision. We always knew that this would be a very tough race alongside two strong competitors."
Annecy bid leader Charles Beigbeder told Reuters: "I am very disappointed. We were hoping to be selected but we congratulate Pyeongchang who were great competitors."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)