POCOG looks to cut costs for upcoming Olympics

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POCOG looks to cut costs for upcoming Olympics

Organizers of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics say they plan to make the event as cost efficient as the recent Gwangju Summer Universiade.

The Universiade, which ended on July 14, was acclaimed here for its use of existing facilities and recycling of equipment used for the Incheon Asian Games.

“In February 2018, I hope the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will be remembered as positively as the Gwangju Summer Universiade,” said Cho Yang-ho, chief of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG), at a press conference in Seoul on Monday. “We are not lavishly spending tax money, and will continue to work towards operating the upcoming Olympics efficiently and economically.”

Pyeongchang organizers said they will also borrow some equipment instead of buying it, while building fewer new facilities after discussing the cost issue with the International Olympic Committee. But since the scale of the Winter Olympics is different from the Universiade, they acknowledged that a substantial amount of money will still need to be spent.

“Pyeongchang and Gangneung are not big cities like Gwangju, meaning there are not many options to utilize existing facilities and manpower,” said Sung Baik-yoo, a spokesman for POCOG.

Cho said preparation for the Winter Games is in full swing, from venue construction to finalizing sponsorship deals.

“It has been really difficult as a head of POCOG [for the last 12 months],” said Cho, who is also chairman of the nation’s 10th-largest conglomerate, Hanjin Group.

“Some IOC members were concerned in the past, but now I can say we have earned their trust and secured stability.”

One ongoing debate concerns whether a dome should be constructed over the main venue for the opening and closing ceremonies to protect viewers from the cold. Opponents of the construction claim it’s wasteful to spend money on a temporary space. Cho said nothing has been determined because the concepts for the ceremonies have not been finalized.

“The director and architects will put their heads together to create efficient and economical opening and closing ceremonies,” he said.

Song Seung-whan, who earlier this month was named executive creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Games, said he will map out the concept for the events by the end of this year.

“When [the country] previously hosted international events, I think people were obsessed with showcasing our traditional culture,” said Song.

“But while we show our own, we should also have a universality that will resonate with people from all around the world.”

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [joo.kyungdon@joongang.co.kr]
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