While the PyeongChang Olympics Organizing Committee instructed attendees to dress for the weather, those who came to the rehearsal felt colder than expected. As the rehearsal continued past 9 p.m., some people could not bear the chill of Daegwallyeong and left before the end. The committee explained that spectators who came to the rehearsal were not provided with the six-item cold weather set that includes a rain poncho, blanket, heated seat cushion, hand warmers, foot warmers and a winter cap, and the problems that were revealed in the rehearsal would be fixed before the opening ceremony.
It should also be checked whether the organizing committee is focusing only on the “guests.” Some volunteers are complaining about food, accommodation and transportation. A volunteer with the protocol team who attended the rehearsal said it took three hours and two bus transfers to travel from his accommodation to the Olympic Plaza. “I am exhausted before starting work.” He said he spent about three hours outside helping spectators enter the venue. “I thought it was so cold that accidents could happen. If I had the option, I honestly don’t want to attend the opening ceremony,” he said.
Volunteers and staff members cannot wear anything over their official uniform. Some volunteers working outside asked to put on outerwear during the opening and closing ceremonies, but the organization committee could not allow it because the volunteers need to be identified by their uniforms.
Efficiency is important when fighting cold. The volunteer said that he and other volunteers worked on checking tickets and guiding spectators to the seats, but it was beyond their capacity. He claims that there were other volunteers who were not given roles around the stadium and argues that the job assignments were not efficient.
The PyeongChang Games is the first Olympics that Korea has hosted in 30 years since the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. In the remaining time, working conditions for the volunteers, food, living environment, transportation and other areas need to be thoroughly checked. The weather might be cold, but we should work together and make PyeongChang a success.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 5, Page 33
*The author is a deputy sports news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.