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PyeongChang on right track

IOC completes on-site inspection on positive note


PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon Province ― PyeongChang came one step closer to hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics on Friday, passing its first big test from the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC team, which arrived here on Monday, showed satisfaction after completing its on-site inspection for the city’s bid for the 2018 Winter Games, according to PyeongChang’s bid committee.

On the fifth day of its visit, the 14-member panel traveled from PyeongChang to Gangneung, the coastal city on the East Sea, 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.

Although the IOC team could only see the curling venue at the Gangneung Indoor Ice Rink as the rest will be built if the city wins the bid, the bid committee provided presentations at each of the proposed venues. 
International Olympic Committee inspectors attend PyeongChang 2018 bid committee’s presentations on five areas, including marketing and legal aspects, at Alpensia Resort’s convention center in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, Friday. (Yonhap News)
International Olympic Committee inspectors attend PyeongChang 2018 bid committee’s presentations on five areas, including marketing and legal aspects, at Alpensia Resort’s convention center in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, Friday. (Yonhap News)

The delegates’ short trip to Gangneung, approximately 30 minutes’ drive from PyeongChang, was also an important task, according to the bid committee.

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, and the Coastal Cluster, in Gangneung, which would stage ice events.

Emphasizing the proximity between the two main clusters, PyeongChang has been trying hard to convince the IOC members that it will run one of the most “compact Olympics” in history. The IOC panel carried out an on-the-ground inspection at the Alpensia Resort on Thursday.

On Friday, IOC delegates started the day by attending presentations on the city’s proposals, including political and economic structure, legal aspects and marketing.

The media was not allowed to attend as all the presentations were delivered to the IOC panel during a four-hour closed door meeting. However, the bid committee held a mock session before the meeting, showing a glimpse of some presentations to the media.

During the mock session, Park Won-ho, a professor in political science at Seoul National University, explained that hosting the Winter Olympics here will bring political and economic stability.

Asked about tensions between North and South Korea, Park said that the tensions on the Korean Peninsula should not affect PyeongChang’s bid, noting that “it has been on―going for the past 60 years while Korea hosted various international events.“

Park also noted that 91 percent of the people in the country support PyeongChang’s bid, and 93 percent of the residents of Gangwon Province back the project.

“We have enough support from the government. President Lee Myung-bak paid a visit here to see the IOC evaluation team. That shows PyeongChang’s 2018 Olympic is on top of the national agenda,” said Park before attending the meeting with the IOC members.

On their final day in PyeongChang, the IOC delegation is scheduled to attend five more presentations, including those on technology, media operations and safety and security. Then, they will hold a news conference to close their week-long inspection here, possibly giving some feedback on PyeongChang’s bid campaign.

PyeongChang, a popular winter sports resort city in Gangwon Province, is competing against Munich in Germany and the French town of Annecy for the 2018 Winter Games.

After a week-long break, the IOC inspection team will head to Munich to wrap up their tours of the three bidding cities. 
(Yonhap News)
(Yonhap News)
(Yonhap News)
(Yonhap News)

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