Thursday, March 22, 2012

IOC pleased with PyeongChang's progressive

PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon Province — Coordination Commission Chairwoman Gunilla Lindberg of the International Olympic Committee said Thursday that she found the readiness of many venues for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics pleasing.

The commission was here for a threeday inspection and meeting concerning preparations for the Winter Olympics.

“It is a great pleasure to be back in PyeongChang,” said Lindberg at a press conference. “I am pleased to report that PyeongChang 2018 has made a full start as an organizing committee. We have met a very impressive team led by Kim Jin-sun.” “We were particularly pleased to see that the Olympic village has already started construction.

“(We viewed the report and) it is a good Olympic concept. This is the beginning of a six-year long journey. Of course there are a lot of things to be done. But the legacy plan, venues, they have a fantastic green project; we are very impressed by it and congratulated POCOG,” she added.

This was the second time for Lindberg to visit PyeongChang, as she previously came as chairwoman of the Evaluation Commission last February. She singled out the preparation level of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) for praise, saying, “We could see that all things were going as were previously reported. Results can be seen of the good preparation for PyeongChang. It has a strong focus on sports, legacy and sustainability.”

President Kim Jin-sun of the POCOG stressed the importance of cooperation with the local government, the IOC, and Korean Olympic Committee (KOC), calling the Olympic project a “team effort.” “This is the first meeting since winning the bid to be the host in July last year.

This is an important meeting so that together the IOC and us can make the Winter Olympics a success,” he said. “We have discussed the organizing committee, special laws, funds, marketing, communication, and the legacy of the Games (in the preparations).” The specifics are all part of what Kim called the “Games Foundation Plan,” which he has mentioned in previous press conferences, and said that the project was on a smooth track to being realized.

During the venue tour on Wednesday, IOC members Gian-Franco Kasper and IOC Executive Director of Olympic Games Gilbert Felli both stressed the importance of the coming Winter Games as not a onetime event, but part of a continuous effort for the development of winter sports. Kim confirmed this goal: “We have a vision and a goal that the Winter Games become athlete-centered, and also leave a legacy for the benefit of the local county and sports. All related organization are in the same boat, and we are heading for the harbor; the successful opening (of the PyeongChang Games).”

The Jungdong downhill skiing venue, located west of the Alpensia Resort where the main events will be held, has sparked protests from environmental groups for the damage it may cause to the surrounding area following the commencement of construction.

Kim said that he was aware of the objections and plans to talk with the group and related officials to find a solution.

Gangwon Province Governor Choi Moon-soon, who was also present, said the local government is taking all possible care to make construction plans nature friendly.

“We have formed a committee of 25 people, mostly professors and experts in environmental issues,” he said. “We have our first meeting on Friday, and will discuss measures to cause the least amount of damage to the surrounding environment and make a plan accordingly. The final plan.”

The visit was the first of an expected 10 by the Coordination Commission before the Winter Games commence in 2018. The second meeting is tentatively scheduled for February 2013. The meetings will be held annually before the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, and will be held twice a year until the PyeongChang Games.

Korea won the bid to host in 2018 last July over Munich of Germany and Annecy of France with an overwhelming 63 out of 95 of the IOC votes in Durban, South Africa. The PyeongChang Organizing Committee was formed following the success of the bid and is initiating projects to expand venues, improve transportation and promote the Games worldwide.

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