Gov’t forms support team for Korean Olympians

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Gov’t forms support team for Korean Olympians

The government on Wednesday launched a cross-functional team to ensure the country’s strong performance as a first-time Winter Olympics host next year.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has put together the “Performance Improvement Support Team” with representatives from the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee, national winter sports federations and the organizing committee for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games.

Korea will be hosting its first Winter Olympics in February next year in PyeongChang, some 180 kilometers (112 miles) east of Seoul in Gangwon Province, and adjacent sub-host cities.

The ministry said the new unit, which will meet monthly, is designed to help Korea meet its goal of finishing among the top four in the medal race at the PyeongChang Games with at least 20 medals.

Korea’s current record for medals at a Winter Games is 14 at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Korea is expected to send some 130 athletes in seven sports to PyeongChang, its biggest Winter Olympics delegation ever.

The ministry said it provided a special grant of 27.4 billion won last year ($23.8 million) to fund athletes’ training and help with Olympic preparations. It added it will spend an additional 33.7 billion won for the same cause in 2017.

The performance improvement team will operate separate sub-units for each Winter Olympic sport and help increase opportunities for overseas training camps. External cooperation officers will be assigned to aid athletes in each sport.

And starting this year, the ministry’s team will seek to ensure maximum training time for homegrown athletes at Olympic venues such as Gangneung Ice Arena (figure skating and short track) and Alpensia Sliding Centre (bobsleigh, skeleton and luge) and give them a head start in brand-new facilities.

The state-run Korea Institute of Sport Science will provide athletes with scientific analysis of their training and also offer psychological help.

“The government and the sports community will join forces to prepare for the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang,” said Yu Dong-hun, the vice sports minister. “We do all we can to help our athletes make the most of their home field advantage.”

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