The change was announced at a news conference in Seoul on Wednesday by the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games and Gangwon Province.
Organizers originally planned to expand the spectator capacity of the Alpensia ski jump site, constructed in 2009, from 10,000 to 50,000 seats, but met problems including complicated access to and from the site, the consequent shortage of exercise time and spectator inconvenience in the case of heavy snow or severe cold.
|Kim Jin-sun (left), president of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, speaks at a news conference in Seoul on Wednesday as Gangwon Province Gov. Choi Moon-soon looks on. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)|
“We are building the Hoenggye heights training site and its vicinity into an Olympic town, which will house pivotal facilities,” Kim Jin-sun, president of the organizing committee, told the news conference.
“The venue of the opening and closing ceremonies will be developed on an 80,000 square-meter plot as a 50,000-seat temporary establishment, part of which will stay after the Games to serve as a high-altitude training ground.”
The site for speed skating will be built on an athletic complex in Gangneung, not on its planned site ― a science and industry complex in the same city ― because the planned location is increasingly surrounded by corporate and research facilities, organizers said.
A slope for the downhill skiing competition will be developed on the ridge starting from Jungbong Peak on Gariwang Mountain, as scheduled. Environment groups called for the relocation of the downhill skiing venue, citing possible harm to endanged wildlife, but Korea Forest Service announced on June 20 after reviewing the site and its alternatives that it would forward with the decision.
The Ice Hockey I arena for the men’s competition will be constructed at the Gangneung Athletic Complex as planned but in the form of movable makeshift so that the facilities will be relocated to Wonju, Gangwon Province, after the Games for use as a gym for ice hockey and other sports.
Organizers planned to construct the Ice Hockey II site for the women’s competition on the campus of Youngdong University in Gangneung, but decided to move the location to somewhere near the planned site due to the limited space of the original plot.
Snowboarding competitions will be held at Phoenix Park as planned.
“In a bid to provide the maximum benefit at the minimum cost, we are trying to build makeshifts as much as possible, for example, media centers. By doing so, we will be able to minimize problems in redeveloping Olympic sites after the Games,” Kim said.
Gangwon Province will expand “Dream Programs” involving foreign athletes to demonstrate PyeongChang’s efforts to enlarge the local fan base of winter sports. The province plans to hold a mountain marathon using the winter sports facilities.
“Gangwon is low in financial independence, so it needs support from the central government to implement the national undertaking successfully,” Gov. Choi Moon-soon said.
By Chun Sung-woo (firstname.lastname@example.org)