Olympic group inspects Korean site

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Olympic group inspects Korean site

An International Olympic Committee delegation will conduct an on-site inspection of Pyeongchang, Gangwon, this week, as part of its final evaluation process for the Korean county, which is bidding for the third consecutive time.

A 14-member delegation, led by Gunilla Lindberg of Sweden, arrived in Korea yesterday.

The delegation will stay in Pyeongchang until Feb. 20 and will then travel to Munich on Feb. 28 to carry out an on-site inspection there.

Last week, Annecy, France, was the first of the three finalists to be evaluated. While Annecy was considered an underdog in the three-bid race, it received positive feedback from the delegation for making a “big improvement on its bid.”

Pyeongchang will be evaluated based on the bid file it submitted to the IOC in January.

The file contains answers to 261 questions from the IOC on 17 categories, such as Pyeongchang’s vision, venues, finance, transportation, security and accommodations.

Pyeongchang will place special emphasis on its compact venue, which will have all major events located within 30 minutes of the athlete’s village.

The bid will also key in on the effect of the Winter Games on the development of winter sports in Northeast Asia. Pyeongchang also boasts the highest public support of the three bids at 91.4 percent, which also figures to score favorably with the IOC delegation.

“Pyeongchang was able to earn the highest grade in the past two on-site inspections [for the 2010 and 2014 Olympics]. And this is despite having only been evaluated on our plan and blueprints alone,” Cho Yang-ho, the bid committee chairman, said yesterday. “We will be able to present completed venues, accommodations and an upgraded transportation system for 2018.”

In addition, Pyeongchang has invited 949 children from 47 underdeveloped countries and nations in tropical climate regions since 2004 as part of its “Dream Program,” which gets kids to participate in winter sports.

Pyeongchang narrowly lost out to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games bid and was edged again for the 2014 bid by Sochi, Russia. The winning bid will be announced at the IOC General Assembly in Durban, South Africa, on July 6.

Korea held the 1988 Summer Olympics and co-hosted the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup but it is trying to win its first Winter Games bid.

Japan is the only Asian country to have held the Winter Olympics, with Sapporo hosting in 1972 and Nagano in 1998.

By Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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