PyeongChang 2018 has said all six of its new competition venues for the winter Olympic Games are on course to stage test events on schedule after construction began on the final facility.
Construction on the new 8,000-seat, 131bn Korean won (€96.7m/$125m) speed skating rink located in the Gangneung Coastal Cluster started on Wednesday. PyeongChang 2018 will have a total of 13 competition venues – four existing, three refurbished and six newly constructed.
The other five new venues already under construction are expected to be completed by November 2016, while the speed skating rink is due to be delivered by January 2017 in time for a test event scheduled the following month.
PyeongChang Organising Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic winter Games (POCOG) president Yang-Ho Cho said: “With this groundbreaking, all our competition venue preparations are in full swing and I am confident that there is good momentum in our progress. POCOG will continue to work closely with the central government and Gangwon Province to deliver an excellent Olympic winter Games in 2018.”
Earlier this month, the Korean government backtracked on a controversial proposal to stage the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2018 Games outside of PyeongChang. Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism had announced a plan to renovate an existing sports centre in Gangneung, rather than building a new 40,000 capacity facility in PyeongChang, in a bid to cut costs. However, the decision led to protests from PyeongChang residents who threatened to boycott the Olympics if the plan went ahead.
In September, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it would work more closely with the Korean government and POCOG to ensure the success of the Games. Korean President Park Geun-hye met IOC counterpart Thomas Bach in Seoul to offer assurances that the government would do everything in its power to support PyeongChang 2018.
The meeting came after businessman Cho was in July confirmed as the new president of POCOG. Cho, who originally said that he would not like to take the role, replaced Kim Jin-sun, who resigned as the head of POCOG earlier in the month.