Russian President Vladimir Putin "has ordered the immediate check of all 200 buildings and venues associated with the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics" following a 5.3 earthquake that hit the Black Sea region, according to Jacquelin Magnay of the London TELEGRAPH. The epicenter of the quake was almost 100 miles from Sochi in the Black Sea. Just hours before the tremor there was a gas explosion at the Sochi local power station, "cutting power for a short time" (TELEGRAPH, 12/27). REUTERS' Vladimir Soldatkin noted Irina Gogoleva, of Russia's Emergencies Ministry, said that no one was hurt and there was "no apparent damage to the city's infrastructure" (REUTERS, 12/26).
LONG ROAD AHEAD: Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, "The president ordered the Emergencies Ministry to pay close attention to the shocks in Sochi and other cities. He asked that special attention is paid to construction sites to make sure they suffer no damage." The AFP noted Olympic developers in Sochi "are managing two giant construction sites," one in the mountains and the other by the Black Sea, that are connected by an unfinished road. Although some sports events have already been hosted by the city, "much of the supporting infrastructure is still unfinished, while residents complain of constant power and water outages" (AFP, 12/27).
The city of PyeongChang in South Korea "has gotten off to a fast start in gearing up for the 2018 Winter Olympics" since it won the right to host the event for the first time in July '11, according to Kang Seung-woo of the KOREA TIMES. Bidding committee co-Chair Kim Jin-sun said, "Since bringing the Winter Games to Korea last year, we have laid the foundations and the road map for the successful hosting of the event in accordance with our vision of transforming Gangwon Province into a winter tourism hub in East Asia." Out of the 13 competition venues, seven already exist for alpine skiing, ski jumping, cross country skiing, biathlon, freestyle skiing, snowboarding and curling. The facilities for bobsleigh, skeleton luge, figure skating and short track speed skating, speed skating and ice hockey will be newly built. A budget of 19.8B won ($18.4M) "has been set aside this year for design work, which has already begun." Construction is "expected to be completed by Oct. '16" (KOREA TIMES, 12/24).
Tokyo 2020 announced that newly elected Tokyo Metropolitan Governor Naoki Inose will serve as Tokyo 2020 chairman. Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda said, "Governor Inose has been following our bid closely for the past five years as Tokyo's Vice Governor. He has steadily supported our aspirations to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games" (Tokyo 2020).
PARTNER LIST INCREASES: Tokyo 2020 has added three companies to its official bid partner list, raising the number to 11. Yahoo! Japan, Japan mobile social gaming company GREE and newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun have been added as official bid partners. The companies will collaborate with the Bid Committee to help bring public support to Tokyo's bid for the 2020 Summer Games (Tokyo 2020).