Press conference for the IOC Coordination Commission in PyeongChang. (ATR)
Gunilla Lindberg, the head of the IOC Coordination Commission said on Thursday that the host of the 2018 Winter Olympics has made a “strong start” in its preparations for the games.
“ Our visit this week is the start of a long and exciting journey for the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee and the commission as we work together to deliver a great Winter Games,” Lindberg told a press conference that marked the end of a three day visit.
“POCOG have a good grasp of what is expected of them and what they need to accomplish,” she added.” They have used their experience of bid processes…and built an impressive bid vision. We have seen a very capable team and have been impressed by the quality of the presentations we received,” she said.
It is the first full visit by the IOC commission since the South Korean city won the bid last year.
Day one of the visit included meetings with POCOG officials as well as representatives of the local and national government.
On Wednesday, there was a tour of venues, both completed and planned, and Thursday morning the final meetings between the commission, POCOG, the Korea Olympic Committee and governmental officials were held.
Co-Comm chair Gunilla Lindberg. (ATR)
According to Lindberg, the strong point of the preparations was how much work has already been done. She said that the “compactness and readiness of the venues are fantastic. We visited many venues, some of which are already complete while others still need to be constructed. We were pleased to learn that construction is starting on the athletes’ village in Gangneung and a clear construction calendar is in place for the venues that need to be built.”
Lindberg also paid tribute to the relationship between the different stakeholders in the bid and the backing that Pyeongchang has from the government.
“We are very impressed with the level of support behind the bid in the country and the province. It’s extraordinary. It is a team effort and it is important to us to see the good ties that POCOG has with authorities at all levels.”
The IOC commission will be back in Pyeongchang in mid-2012. There is however, no specific development that the IOC demands to see in place at that time as Gilbert Felli, the IOC Executive Director for the Olympic Games, explained in response to a question from ATR.
“The IOC is working with the organizing committee according to a master schedule. For our next visit, there is nothing specific that we have to follow but we will be happy to review the discussions that we have had over the last three days regarding accommodation, especially what type of accommodation there will be for the media -four star accommodation was proposed but we suggested that there could also be three star, that is an example.”
Jin Sun Kim, the president of the organizing committee, thanked the IOC for their help during the visit.
“It has been a constructive and productive meeting with the commission. This is the first year that we started preparations in earnest. Throughout the meetings, the IOC members gave us great insight and advice. That will be reflected in our preparatory work.
POCOG chair Jin Sun Kim.(ATR)
Olympic Games will be a product created by the IOC, POCOG, the host region and the Korean Olympic Committee together. Everyone is in the same boat and has the same goal of making the most successful games possible.”
The former governor of Gangwon Province attempted to clarify the situation regarding the high-speed rail link between Incheon International Airport and Pyeongchang, around 250 kilometers to the east.
There was confusion in January as, according to the Korean media, plans to connect the region to Seoul by high-speed rail were 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.
“During the bid process we made a commitment and that commitment that is being put in practice,” said Kim. He added that the issue had been clarified in meetings with the IOC Commission.
“The original plan was some kind of misunderstanding with the media. The original plan was that from Incheon to Wonju, existing railway will be improved. Between Wonju and Gangneung, a new railway will be built. That plan is being discussed with the central government.”
Lindberg was full of praise for that had been done though warned that there was still much to do.
“2149 days remain and a lot of work must be accomplished between now and then. We wish the team good luck and are confident that they will deliver a great Olympic games.”
Written and reported in PyeongChang by John Duerden.
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