Eyes On South Korea As PyeongChang Prepares To Host Next Winter Games
As the Winter Olympics drew to a close in Russia, "the eyes of the sporting world turned to the South Korean town of PyeongChang, the host of the next Winter Games in 2018," according to YONHAP. The Olympic Flag was handed over from Sochi to PyeongChang during the closing ceremony at Fisht Olympic Stadium on Sunday, "and it will be kept in the South Korean host over the next four years." PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee President Kim Jin-sun stayed in Sochi throughout the Winter Olympics, "promoting the 2018 competition and trying to learn from the Russian host." Kim said that he and the rest of the PyeongChang organizing team "tried to pick the brains of the Russian hosts." Some staffers "job-shadowed Sochi officials throughout the Olympics, and Kim himself held technical coordination meetings with individual sports federations." PyeongChang has vowed to stage a compact Olympics, "with venues and facilities all close to one another." PyeongChang has been preparing to host the Winter Games for more than a decade, and it likely will not deal with construction delays for venues "that so hampered the buildup to Sochi." Kim said that "this does not mean PyeongChang will sit back and take its time." Kim: "We have to be done with the preparation with one year remaining and start making final adjustments" (YONHAP, 2/23).
LET IT SNOW: The AFP reported one improvement the PyeongChang organizers "are sure they can deliver on is the snow -- more of it." While temperatures in Sochi touched 20 degrees Celsius, PyeongChang "is a genuine winter resort with Alpine snow conditions." The Sochi Games were the most expensive ever, with a price tag of about $50B that "would make any potential host city think twice before putting its name forward." But "they were essentially built from scratch, and the bulk of that inflated budget went on infrastructure, including roads, railways, hotels and other long-term regeneration projects." PyeongChang, by contrast, "has most support facilities in place," and its infrastructure budget is $7B, which includes a high-speed rail link between Seoul and PyeongChang (AFP, 2/23).