After Rio, all eyes on Pyeongchang

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After Rio, all eyes on Pyeongchang

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The colorful ceremony at Macarana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro concluded the 2016 Olympics with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach declaring its end. Now, all eyes are on East Asia, where the next three Olympic Games will take place: the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, Korea; the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan; and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, China. The 2018 PyeongChang Games will mark the historic start of the series of Olympic Games in East Asia with a fireworks display at the opening ceremony in 535 days.

Lee Hee-beom, president and CEO of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (Pocog), said the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics would extend the ‘barrier-free’ theme that was begun in Rio. “In 77 weeks, we will deliver an Olympic that transcends the barriers for the difference in language, for physically impaired, for age and for safety,” he said during his speech on Sunday, in which he congratulated the Rio Organizing Committee for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. “Now it is Pyeongchang’s turn.”

The Pocog has been in Rio to monitor the Games as well as to promote the PyeongChang Olympics. The PyeongChang 2018 House in Rio, a booth set up by the committee at Copacabana Beach to promote the Winter Olympics, has garnered attention from locals as well as tourists in Rio by offering various amenities and services to boost the profile of the sleepy alpine town.

“Korea has hosted various international sports events such as the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 2002 World Cup successfully, and the PyeongChang Olympics will extend this legacy,” Lee explained. “We are well aware of the attention by the media around the world. All eyes are on Pyeongchang now that the Rio Games are finished. Most of our facilities will be completed by October, and in November, we will host test events as the final inspection before the 2018 Winter Games.”

More than anything else, what caught the eyes of Pocog officials in Rio was the “low-cost, high-efficiency” opening ceremony. Reportedly, the budget set for the opening ceremony at this year’s Games was about $21 million, half of the budget for the 2012 London Games. Despite the low cost, the ceremony successfully conveyed the values of the Rio Games as well as the culture and beauty of Brazil. “We learned the necessity of creative ideas,” said Lee. “The opening ceremony at the PyeongChang Olympics should also be able to show hallyu to the world while spending efficiently.”

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]
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