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  • Pyeongchang Promises to Work with Olympic Venue Protestors


    03/23/12

    Jungbong, planned site for alpine events. (ATR)
    (ATR) Organizers of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games Pyeongchang stress their desire to work with protesting environmental groups over the alpine ski venue at Jungbong.

    The venue, located in a hamlet 30 minutes from the Olympic Village, would require deforestation of slopes that are protected under environmental law.

    Responding to a question from Around the Rings on Thursday at a press conference that marked the end of the IOC Coordination Commission’s three-day visit to South Korea, both Kim Jin-sun, president of the Organizing Committee (POCOG), and chair of the IOC Commission Gunilla Lindberg spoke of the importance of a "green Games" in the light of increased protests.

    On Monday, 13 environmental groups held a press conference near Pyeongchang to voice their concern over the construction of the venue on Gariwang Mountain, a natural area protected by the Korea Forest Reserve. The work is due to start in 2013.

    The groups claim that there are rare flora and fauna on the mountain and have vowed to continue protesting using any means necessary to stop the ‘destruction’.

    Kim spoke of Pyeongchang’s green credentials. “We are planning to make an environmentally friendly games, it is part of the vision and message of the IOC and POCOG,” he said.

    “When we chose that site at Jungbong, we looked at the conditions and we found that was the only option in terms of a downhill venue. After we were selected as the host, some environmental groups issued concerns and brought these concerns to our attention and this is completely understandable.

    “We intend to engage with the environmental organizations and experts and the government and national and provincial level and bring together wisdom and work together so we can launch an eco-friendly games,” said Kim.

    Lindberg said that although the commission did not visit Jungbong on this occasion, she had been to the area during evaluation trips in the past. She also publicly placed the IOC’s trust in the organizers to work with the groups in order to reach a successful outcome.

    “It is important to the IOC that we have an environmentally-friendly games and it is important that we have the trust of environmental groups,” she said.
    Protestors held a press conference this week ahead of the IOC visit.

    Choi Moon Soon, the governor of Pyeongchang’s home province of Gangwon, announced the formation of an environmental advisory panel.

    “It will represent different environmental groups and other stakeholders,” said Choi. “There are 25 people in all. We will have the first meeting tomorrow (Friday) and will discuss ways in which to minimize the environmental impact on Jungbong.”

    “The design will be finished this year and construction will start next year and will be completed in 2016. It is a tight schedule but we want to reflect the views of the environmental groups from the beginning,” said the governor.

    Written and reported in Pyeongchang by John Duerden.

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