Minimize Olympics costs

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Minimize Olympics costs

The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games will take place in three years’ time. The organizing committee held a mini-opening ceremony to bring attention to the landmark event that will be hosted in Gangwo?n Province. But there is little public interest in the event or winter sports these days. It will be a wonder if the games can be held successfully when the mood in the host country is so lackluster.

International sporting events like the Olympics are no longer an automatic hit. Gone are the days when funds, sponsors and audience members poured in.

To make the event a success, the organizers must be thorough and aggressive in their marketing. The organizing committee, the provincial government and the Sports Ministry all have to chip in to increase interest in the Olympics.

It was also inappropriate for Gangwon Province Gov. Choi Moon-soon to suddenly suggest that the two Koreas form a joint national team. If it works well, a joint team could help with reconciliation of the two Koreas and lead to a peaceful Olympic Games. But an issue that sensitive should have been fully discussed and coordinated with the organizing committee and government. It is not wise to float the idea without thorough discussion.

There are also concerns over the snowballing financial costs. The organizers must seek ways to minimize the cost and make management more efficient to reduce deficits and losses.

This must be the goal throughout the preparation process. The games will do more harm than good if the organizing committee and Gangwon Province end up buried in debt.

Construction of sports venues and traffic infrastructure will cost 11.43 trillion won ($10.4 billion). The host Gangwon Province has a financial sufficiency rate at the 20 percent level. The local government has borrowed 200 billion won already to prepare for the games.

The Incheon metropolitan administration is mulling cutting welfare subsidies because its debt has increased since it hosted the Incheon Asian Games last year. Gangwon Province must learn from the Incheon precedent. It must find the wisdom to hold a successful event without incurring heavy losses.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 11, Page 34

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