The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has expressed its full confidence that PyeongChang will deliver a “great” winter Olympic Games in 2018, but has said legacy planning and promotion of the event remain key concerns.
The IOC’s Coordination Commission, led by IOC member Gunilla Lindberg (pictured), today (Friday) completed its seventh visit to the South Korean host, reporting that, on average, the new venues in PyeongChang and nearby Gangneung are 90 per cent complete in advance of 26 test events scheduled between this November and April 2017.
PyeongChang will host mountain events during the 2018 Games, while Gangneung will host the ice sports. The first test event, scheduled for November 23-26, will be the International Ski Federation’s (FIS) Snowboard Big Air World Cup. Snowboard Big Air will make its Olympic debut at PyeongChang 2018.
“We saw first hand the progress of the construction projects,” Lindberg said at a closing news conference with PyeongChang 2018 president Hee-beom Lee. “There is no doubt that the venues will be ready for the upcoming test events.”
She added: “PyeongChang 2018 is entering the last stages of preparations. My colleagues and I leave here more confident than ever that PyeongChang 2018 will deliver great Games.”
However, Lindberg maintained PyeongChang 2018 still faces significant challenges, chiefly in raising awareness of the Games. “The biggest challenge at the moment is how to promote the Games over the world, because this is a small place,” she said, according to Korean news agency Yonhap.
“It's not Rio de Janeiro and it's not London. We have to take action as soon as possible. We'll have a series of test events, and the athletes will be coming. We'll have major TV coverage and people will be aware of the Games in PyeongChang. The PyeongChang Games will be an opportunity for people from abroad to visit Korea and see winter sports here.”
Lee echoed Lindberg’s concerns, adding that PyeongChang 2018 has elected to delay the start of ticket sales from this month to February in order to tie in with the one-year countdown to the Games, which run from February 9-25, 2018.
“We felt the start of the one-year countdown will help us get the most out of our marketing strategies,” Lee said. “And we'll focus on preparing for the test events and raising people's interest in winter sports in the upcoming season.”
Lindberg also said local organisers need to quickly finalise their legacy plans for venue use after the Olympics and Paralympics have ended. “This is something we'll continue to discuss even after the Olympic Games are over,” Lee added. “We've determined after-use plans for 10 of our 12 venues. We'll finalise plans for the two remaining facilities soon.”