METRO PLUS

Modern marvel

FOOTBALL COLOSSEUM: The new stadium has drawn worldwide admiration.

FOOTBALL COLOSSEUM: The new stadium has drawn worldwide admiration.  

THE WORLD CUP football championship is regarded as the greatest sports spectacle on earth after the Olympic Games.

With the inauguration of this event scheduled to be held on May 31, the atmosphere in the host countries Korea and Japan has to be seen to be believed.

The tournament begins with defending champion France taking on Senegal at the Seoul World Cup stadium on May 31 and the final is slated for June 30 in Japan. This is the first football World Cup tournament to be held in the continent of Asia and the first to be co-hosted.

Thirty two national teams divided into eight groups, will play in the league phase and the top two teams from each group will qualify for the second round.

The matches will be spread over various cities in Korea and Japan and will see the participation of approximately 26,000 people including players, officials, FIFA representatives and media persons. An estimated 3.2 million people will actually watch the matches at the venues while the television audience will be an estimated at 4.2 billion. To plan and host an event of such magnitude requires detailed planning and tremendous foresight and experience.

The main centre in Korea will be its capital city of Seoul. The city has a track record of successfully organising global events such as the 1988 summer Olympic Games and is making all out efforts to do even better this time. The city has constructed top class infrastructure including the new football stadium, which has drawn worldwide admiration for its elegant design, easy access and beautiful surroundings.

Tourism infrastructure has also been upgraded and the city's excellent transportation, accommodation, sight seeing, shopping and entertainment services will give the visitors and the football fans an extensive glimpse into Korean culture.

The Seoul World Cup stadium, where the opening ceremony and the first match will be held, has been planned and built on a massive scale.

It has a seating capacity of 64,677 and about 90 percent of it is covered. Parking is available for 2,546 vehicles.

It is Asia's largest stadium meant exclusively for football. While constructing the huge stadium, all ecological considerations were meticulously taken care of and to give the event a multi-faceted hue, several art, fashion and music festivals have also been planned in the city.

Other World Cup venues in Korea include Incheon, Suwon, Daejeon, Jeonju, Daegu, Ulsan, Busan and Gwangju. All these cities are connected to each other by trains and buses and except for Daejeon, all are connected by flight also.

In all 70,000 taxis have been equipped with an interpretation system, and 12,000 restaurants have been equipped to provide a varied menu for visitors from all over the world and translation and interpretation services have been updated and provided extensively throughout all the host cities.

Apart from hotels, homestays and guesthouses, youth hostels and camping sites are also ready to make visitors feel at home.

Plans have also been drawn regarding utilisation of the facilities after the grand show is finished.

After the tournament is over, the Seoul World Cup stadium has various facilities that will allow the citizens to use it throughout the year for a wide variety of sports, cultural and social activities. Some of the stadium's stands can be converted into a huge outdoor theatre and the 53,000 square metres of facilities beneath the stands include a multiplex, discount stores, sports centres, sports shops, cultural centres and restaurants.

So the chances are that the huge investment will not be lying idle at any time of the year. According to several experts the FIFA World Cup this time is not seen merely as a football tournament but also as a stepping-stone toward world peace and racial reconciliation.

(With inputs by Dasu Kesva Rao recently in Seoul)

ABHIJIT SEN GUPTA

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