PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon Province ― A panel of the International Olympic Committee arrived in PyeongChang on Monday to evaluate the city’s bid to host the Winter Olympics.
PyeongChang, the popular winter sports resort city in Gangwon Province, is competing against Munich of Germany and the French town of Annecy for the 2018 Winter Games.
The 14-member delegation, led by Gunilla Lindberg of Sweden, visited Annecy last week, and will carry out an on-site inspection here until Feb. 20 before heading to Munich next week.
During their visit, the inspection team is expected to check PyeongChang’s Games plan, proposed stadiums, training centers and also broadcasting facilities.
Residents of PyeongChang welcome the members of the IOC evaluation commission Monday as they arrive in the city to inspect its bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. In the right photo Park Yong-sung, president of the Korean Olympic Committee, shakes hands with Gunilla Lindberg, head of the evaluation team. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)
The IOC officials will kick-off their schedule on Tuesday by holding a meeting with the bid committee. President Lee Myung-bak is also expected to meet the delegation later in the day to demonstrate the government’s full support for the PyeongChang’s bid campaign.
On Wednesday, the IOC team will then attend presentations at the Alpensia Convention Center. And from Wednesday to Friday, they will visit PyeongChang’s proposed venues for the Winter Games, including ski jump, cross country and biathlon venues in Alpensia Resort, and ice hockey and figure skating venues in Gangneung.
The IOC team will wrap up their schedule with a closing news conference on Saturday and will depart from PyeongChang on Sunday morning.
PyeongChang has failed twice in bids to host the 2010 and 2014 games, but that doesn’t seem to discourage the residents here.
On Monday, despite heavy snows and blustery winds, hundreds of local supporters turned out on the streets to welcome the IOC delegation.
Last weekend, the region had a record of snowfall of 78 centimeters in one day, but the roads were cleared to provide safe passage to the delegation’s tour.
During the IOC inspection, thousands of residents here will give a thunderous welcome. The streets are already decorated with dozens of placards, saying “Welcome, IOC Evaluation commission,” and “Yes, PyeongChang.”
The locals acknowledged that PyeongChang has changed dramatically in the past 10 years, while making its third attempt to bring the Winter Games here.
One of most notable changes is the Alpensia Resort, which was completed last year with a $1.5 billion investment. The Alpensia, dubbed as the “Alps of Asia,” now boasts various world-standard sports facilities, including cross country skiing, biathlon and ski jump venues. The IOC delegation is staying at the five-star Intercontinental Hotel in Alpensia. The IOC evaluation commission will release its recommendation report in June and IOC members will vote to select the site in July in Durban, South Africa.
By Oh Kyu-wook (firstname.lastname@example.org)