As the countdown to the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics reaches 200 days, preparations for the quadrennial competition have entered the final phase.
The PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) completed its eighth International Olympic Committee Project Review on July 4. During the two-day meeting with IOC officials, the POCOG discussed its final preparations for the torch relay and athletes' accommodations and transportation, among other issues.
PyeongChang is now seeking more support from the public sector, as it nears its sponsorship target.
PyeongChang's efforts on the sponsorship front were hampered by a major political scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye and her long-time friend, Choi Soon-sil.
Choi allegedly used her connection with Park to coerce major corporations into donating huge sums to her two foundations: Mir and K Sports. That had a trickle-down effect on PyeongChang, as those companies grew reluctant to open their wallets to sponsor the Winter Olympics. And with the nation watching the compelling political and legal drama unfold, PyeongChang also struggled to generate much buzz for the Olympics.
Following Park's impeachment and arrests of other principal figures in the scandal, PyeongChang turned the corner. POCOG President Lee Hee-beom has been busy meeting with corporate leaders this year, and a handful of companies has stepped up to pledge their support.
In April, the POCOG finally found its main banking partner in KEB Hana Bank.
As of the end of June, PyeongChang has reached 94.5 percent of its sponsorship target, with 888.4 billion won pledged so far.
And the POCOG has turned to the public sector in the final stretch, and it's said to be in talks with large state-run firms, such as Korea Electric Power Corp.
Meanwhile, the government has pledged support to ensure the home fans will have a lot to cheer about next year. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has brought together representatives from the Korea Sport and Olympic Committee, the POCOG and national winter sports federations for the PyeongChang 2018 Performance Improvement Support Team. The government has set aside 33.7 billion won this year to fund athletes' training and help with overall Olympic preparations.
The POCOG has been training its volunteers this year. More than 16,000 of them have undergone two training sessions so far, and more will follow starting in September. (Yonhap)