By Duncan Mackay

Kim_Yu_Na_with_flowers_Seoul_March_20_2011March 21 - Pyeongchang will begin to publicly use the charismatic Kim Yu-Na in their campaign to host the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics when she appears at the official 74th AIPS Congress Opening Ceremony in Seoul tomorrow.

The Olympic figure skating champion is then set to travel to London next month to represent Pyeongchang at SportAccord, one of the most important dates in the countdown to the final decision at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Durban on July 6.

Kim's appearance at SportAccord had been widely expected but the opportunity to take part in the AIPS Congress, the annual gathering of the International Sports Press Association, due to be attended by more than 200 of the world's most influential journalists, has occured because of decision to postpone the World Figure Skating Championships in Tokyo because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

She will make a short address at the Opening Ceremony in the Grand Ballroom of the COEX Convention Centre.

Kim returned to Korea last night for the first time in eight months and was greeted by a large crowd at the airport.

"I had high expectations for the World Championships, so it's a shame that I couldn't show what I've been preparing," she said.

"At this point, all I hope is that people in Japan are all right."

Annecy and Munich will also attend the AIPS Congress to make their pitches for the 2018 Games.

On Wednesday (March 23), each bidding city is scheduled to deliver a 15-minute long presentation to the journalists.

After the meeting, the three bidders will head directly to New Caledonia for the Oceania National Olympic Committees congress, which is scheduled for March 23 until 27, and then onto London.

But the appearance of Kim will add a bit of spice to the contest as it pits her against one of her precedessors as Olympic champion, Katarina Witt, the 1984 and 1988 gold medallist, who is the chair of the Munich bid.

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