Pyeongchang 2018 president Jin Sun Kim (ATR)
(ATR) The head of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics says more than $9 billion will be spent on the first Winter Games in South Korea.
Speaking at a press conference meant to introduce the next Winter Olympics host, President Jin Sun Kim said the figure includes a high-speed rail between Seoul and Pyeonchang 200 km away as well as the costs of venues to be constructed.
The figure of $9 billion is $3 billion less than the amount cited last month as the total cost of Sochi by Russian President Vladimir Putin in a roundtable interview with reporters. Some reports say the real cost of Sochi is closer to $50 billion.
More venues were constructed for Sochi but as with Pyeongchang, a multibillion-dollar rail line was also part of the project. Pyeongchang says it will spend about $2 billion on games operations, a figure slightly less than Sochi.
Kim promised that the new rail line would put Seoul just an hour away from Olympic sites.
Speaking in English, Kim, a former governor of Gangwon Province and the leader of two previous bids for the winter games said Pyeongchang would offer the most compact venue plan ever for the Winter Olympics.
Indeed from a cluster of venues around the mountain village of Pyeongchang, the travel time to the ice venues in the coastal city of Gangneung is less than 30 minutes. Unlike Sochi, the 2018 Winter Olympics will scatter the ice venues around Gangneung instead of placing them all in an Olympic Park. Kim says venue construction will begin from this year.
Kim said that it has narrowed the search for its first national sponsor down to one telecommunications company, with which it soon final discussions.
“The price is much higher than expected,” said Kim.
Negotiations are also underway for banking, automotive, hotel, food service, construction service and airline categories.
Asked whether North Korean athletes might compete in 2018 after missing Sochi, Kim said he hoped they would. Gangwon Province shares a border with North Korea.
“I hope [North Korean] athletes will be able to come to PyeongChang. If this is realized it will be a very, very good thing,” he said without specifying the steps that need to be taken to ensure participation of the North.
Mayor of PyeongChang Seok Rae Lee (ATR)
Mentioned briefly at the press conference was the eight minute portion of the Sochi closing ceremony Sunday night when the Olympic flag will be handed from the Mayor of Sochi to the Mayor of Pyeongchang. No details of the ceremony were revealed much beyond the stated theme of the segment “A Journey Together”.
Pyeongchang Mayor Seok Rae Lee, who has not figured into the bid for 2018 will step into the spotlight at the ceremony to make his Olympic debut.
“It will be the start of the Games. I feel very honored to the receive the flag. It will be a very memorable moment,” he said.
“We are going to show those unique cultural elements during the closing ceremony. Those will bring the world to PyeongChang,” said the mayor.
Written by Ed Hula.
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