David_OwenAbout halfway through today's slick – and gobsmackingly brightly-lit – presentation by the Pyeongchang bid team, I found my mind drifting back 10 years.

Something about the extreme formality of the occasion – which contrasted sharply with the relaxed demeanour of the Korean bid's two European rivals - and the assured air of those taking part reminded me of Beijing's performances at the International Olympic Committee Session in Moscow in 2001.

That campaign ended with the Chinese capital comfortably winning the right to stage the 2008 Summer Games in what was a landmark moment for the Olympic Movement.

Will the race for the 2018 Winter Olympics be a similar success story for an Asian candidate?

We shall have to wait and see – but having witnessed presentations on Monday by each of the three candidates, that still appears to me the most likely outcome.

Announcement of the day came from Munich, with confirmation that former German football captain Franz Beckenbauer – almost certainly the world's best-known Bavarian – was on his way to Durban to lobby for the bid.

I shall be genuinely interested to see how this pans out.

Such is the Kaiser's stature that the German team had little option but to ask him: it would have been interpreted as a sign of weakness if he hadn't come, just as French President Nicolas Sarkozy's absence is being seen as a signal that not even the French truly believe Annecy can win.

On the other hand, football is not a sport that features in the Winter Olympics.

Would, say, a Canadian city use ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky to help out on a Summer Olympic bid?

I don't know the answer to that question, it is possible that they would, but I think it would be a pretty close judgement call.

If the Germans have summoned another global sporting superstar to supplement the efforts of bid leader Katarina Witt, Annecy's big achievement since arriving in South Africa has been to unearth a compelling message.

In their beach-front marquee, opposite the local casino, a venue housing more white furniture than the average Premiership footballer's living-room, Annecy Mayor Jean-Luc Rigaut built fluently on bid President Charles Beigbeder's plea from the day before to keep the Games "authentic".

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"We are not there to get a trophy for a company or a country," Beigbeder (pictured) said, in one of the more aggressive soundbites of noticeably good natured campaign.

As a former white-water canoeing champion, Rigaut's warning that Big Sport was in danger of becoming overcommercialised, of losing its soul, will strike a chord with some of the 100 or so IOC members who will decide the outcome of this contest.

Mieux vaut tard que jamais (Better late than never) is an aphorism as common in French as in English.

And the hard-hitting tactic has certainly set tongues wagging in Durban.

But it is hard to envisage it doing enough to get the French candidate seriously back into the race.

'Relaxed' can be good in the sometimes pompous and overformalised parallel universe of Olympism.

But there is a fine line between appearing relaxed and appearing amateurish and, based on yesterday's events, I have to say the European bids at times came across as amateurish compared with their well-resourced Korean rivals.

It was amateurish of Annecy to confer among themselves at considerable length before answering one of the questions posed by journalists.

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And while it may have been intended as a joke, it appeared amateurish to me for Witt (pictured) to ask her media conference mediator, "Am I allowed?" after he invited her to announce that a certain German footballer was on his way to Durban to add his weight to Munich's cause.

A further small symptom: Pyeongchang's table in the main media room is groaning under the weight of brochures and Olympic pins.

Annecy's and Munich's? Empty.

Now it might be that they have been stripped bare by voracious journalists.

But I somehow doubt it.

Who wants this most? I am sure all three bid teams are working – and praying - for victory with identical intensity.

Who appears to want it most? Based on the past couple of days, there can only be one answer to this question.

David Owen worked for 20 years for the Financial Times in the United States, Canada, France and the UK. He ended his FT career as sports editor after the 2006 World Cup and is now freelancing, including covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2010 World Cup. Owen's Twitter feed can be accessed at www.twitter.com/dodo938