PyeongChang Olympic Venue Suffering Financial Losses; Rogge To Pay Visit
IOC President Jacques Rogge "is expected to visit" South Korea at the end of January to check up on preparations for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, "especially the troubled financial status of one of its main venues," according to Kang Seung-woo of the KOREA TIMES. Predictions are that the 2018 Games "could result in about 29T-60T won ($27.3B-$56.5B) in economic benefits for the country." But the "snowballing debt" of the Alpensia Resort -- which is the main venue and will host the ski jumping, biathlon, cross country skiing, bobsleigh, luge and skeleton competitions -- "has become a thorn in the organizer's side." Last month Gangwon Development Corp., which owns and operates Alpensia, said that the resort has been losing about 60B won ($56M) annually over the past few years "because of costs including a substantial amount of monthly interest," while revenue remains at 50B won ($47M). The interest stems from a total of 1T won ($941M) in municipal bonds and bank loans raised since '04 "to finance the construction of the resort." The deadline for Alpensia to pay back its outstanding debt installments of 560B and 220B won ($527M and $207M) is '13 and '14 respectively. If it fails to make the repayments, "Alpensia may go belly up" (KOREA TIMES, 12/31).