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IOC checks PyeongChang’s Olympic venues

14-member panel expresses satisfaction with infrastructure


PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon Province ― The International Olympic Committee evaluation team on Thursday visited sports venues in PyeongChang, one of three candidate cities bidding for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

On fourth day of their visit, the IOC delegation, led by Gunilla Lindberg of Sweden, took a careful look around the Nordic, cross country, biathlon and ski jump venues at Alpensia Resort, alpine courses in Yongpyong Resort and snowboard and freestyle ski venues at Bokwang Phoenix Park, in PyeongChang, some 180 kilometers east of Seoul.

They also visited Jungbong Mount in Jeongseon, near PyeongChang, where alpine downhill and super-G courses will be built by 2016 if PyeongChang wins the bid.
Lee Kun-hee (left), a member of the International Olympic Committee and chairman of Samsung Electronics, shakes hands with Gunilla Lindberg, head of the IOC’s inspection team at Bokwang Phoenix Park in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, Thursday. (Yonhap News)
Lee Kun-hee (left), a member of the International Olympic Committee and chairman of Samsung Electronics, shakes hands with Gunilla Lindberg, head of the IOC’s inspection team at Bokwang Phoenix Park in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, Thursday. (Yonhap News)

On Thursday just after sunrise, the delegates hit the roads in PyeongChang. The first stop was Alpensia jumping park.

Eight among the 14-member IOC panel had already been here before during the city’s two previous bids. But it was their first time to see the venue, which was completed last year with a $1.5 billion investment.

“This is a very nice venue,” Lindberg told Cho Yang-ho, the chairman and CEO of the bid committee while looking out the 160-meter-tall jumping tower and two snow-covered jumping slopes at a stand.

“This venue can stage an opening and closing ceremony for the 2018 Games with a capacity of up to 60,000 spectators,” Oh Gap-jin, professor of sports marketing at Kyong Dong University, said during a presentation to the delegates.
PYEONGCHANG INSPECTION - IOC inspectors check on Alpensia resort's ski jump ramps in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, Thursday. (Yonhap News)
PYEONGCHANG INSPECTION - IOC inspectors check on Alpensia resort's ski jump ramps in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, Thursday. (Yonhap News)

On Thursday, local experts and former Olympians, including bobsledder Kang Kwang-bae, delivered a presentation at each venue to the IOC delegates.

After inspecting the Olympiad on-site in PyeongChang, the IOC members were invited to a lunch by Korean IOC member Lee Kun-hee at Bokwang Phoenix Park.

Lee, the chairman of Samsung Electronics, the main sponsor of IOC, said he received a “better reaction” from the IOC delegation than four years ago, when PyeongChang bid for the 2014 Games.

Most of the 14-member panel showed their satisfaction during their first on-the-ground inspection here, according Kim Jin-sun, special envoy for PyeongChang’s 2018 Winter Olympic bid.

PyeongChang’s plan is to run the Olympics in two major clusters: the Alpensia Cluster, around the Alpensia Resort, which would host snow events and also the sliding sports, while the Coastal Cluster, in Gangneung would stage ice events, including hockey, speed skating and figure skating.

The IOC members are scheduled to travel to the Gangneung Cluster, where five ice stadiums for speed skating, figure skating and short track, curling and ice hockey, and the Olympic village and reporters` village will be located, Friday after attending five more presentations on legal aspects of the Olympics, customs and immigration and marketing themes. Closing their week-long inspection, the IOC delegation will hold a press conference on Saturday.

By Oh Kyu-wook (596story@heraldcorp.com)
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