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  • PyeongChang 2018 Opens First IOC Coordination Commission Visit


    (ATR) As the first inspection visit for PyeongChang 2018 gets underway, IOC Coordination Commission chair Gunilla Lindberg tells Around the Rings that Korea's Winter Olympic preparations are in good shape.
    Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli and PyeongChang 2018 Coordination Commission chair Gunilla Lindberg huddle last week in Lausanne. (ATR)

    "We have seen a lot of commitment from them. So far it looks good and they have very quickly put in the leadership. It feels good," Lindberg told ATR.

    "There is a lot of snow," she added, speaking from PyeongChang.

    PyeongChang won 2018 hosting rights at the IOC Session in Durban last July, and the OCOG was formed in December.

    Lindberg noted that the 2018 Olympics organizing committee and South Korean government have already delivered on promises made in two failed bids for the 2010 and 2014 Games to develop winter sports facilities, which has given the city a head start in Games preparations.

    On this first visit, the Swedish IOC member, Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli and colleagues on the Co-Comm are more interested in getting to know POCOG's leaders than drilling down into the detail of the sports venue plan. Among other key figures on the commission are IOC member Rene Fasel, who heads the International Ice Hockey Federation.

    "It is more to get the full commission updated on the full concept and to get to know the leadership and to witness what we are going to work on for the coming six years," Lindberg said.
    PyeongChang welcomes the IOC beginning Tuesday. (ATR)

    Work is already well underway to flesh out bid book plans on the venue concept and in other areas following the IOC's orientation seminar in the city last August.

    Jin Sun Kim, president of PyeongChang 2018, and South Korea's sports minister Choe Kwang-sik will play lead roles in the IOC's three-day inspection visit beginning Tuesday. Governor of Gangwon Province Choi Moon-soon and Korean Olympic Committee president Park Yong-sung will also be busy reporting on Winter Olympics progress.

    Kim tells ATR the organizing committee will show the Coordination Commission work is already well-underway for the 2018 Games, with POCOG's headquarter in PyeongChang up and running.

    PyeongChang 2018 president Jin Sun Kim at the recent PASO Assembly in Mexico City. (ATR)
    "We wish to show them the conditions in PyeongChang and we also want to tell them about government support," he said recently.

    "We especially want them to see our venues and they will be able to give us their insight. We have done much work when it comes to infrastructure such as the expressways. We’ve also created a working group called the 'Dream Team' and the Dream Team will be drafting the Games Foundation Plan. We have to create the most successful Games and the most memorable Games.

    "At this stage its not about words it’s about actions," he added.

    Kim said his desire for the 2018 Games is to make them "uniquely PyeongChang". As for what that specifically entails he says to wait and see.

    He also claims interest in the Games has not died down since the IOC awarded PyeongChang the Games.

    "Its an undying passion of the Korean people" he said. "It’s the pinnacle of everybody’s interest."

    One area of confusion in recent months that the IOC will seek clarity on are plans to connect the region to Seoul by high-speed rail. Korean media reports in January said the project had been scrapped. The reports said the rail line was not included in a budget for the Games adopted on Dec. 30 by the Korean National Assembly.

    POCOG chiefs rebuffed "inaccurate" media reports and stated that the planned rail line will run from Wonju, in the western side of Gangwon Province to PyeongChang, cutting travel time from Seoul to PyeongChang to a 90-minute journey.

    Presentations from POCOG leaders, government officials and Olympic stakeholders are the order of the day for Tuesday.

    On Wednesday, the IOC delegation heads out on a venue tour during which commission members will be briefed on the scope and timetable of venue and transport construction and renovation plans. This will include stops at the Alpensia resort where biathlon, ski jump and cross-country events are to be held, and skating venues in Gangneung.

    The IOC wraps up its visit with a press conference on Thursday.

    Reported by Mark Bisson.

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