With less than 50 days to go before the opening of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Games, Korea’s preparations have progressed flawlessly, with sporting facilities, transportation and other infrastructure in place.
PyeongChang 2018 will open Feb. 9 for a 17-day run with a record number of participating athletes.
A total of 102 gold medals are up for grabs, becoming the first-ever Winter Olympics with more than 100 gold medals, the PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee (POCOG) said. The POCOG has welcomed the Russian Olympic Committee’s decision to allow those who choose to compete in PyeongChang in light of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s ban on Russia over state-sponsored doping. Only individual athletes who meet anti-doping conditions will be allowed to compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR),” not the Russian national delegation.
The POCOG said the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games will be remembered as the “Olympics of Peace, IT and Culture” to become the biggest-ever global sports extravaganza for all people around the world. The 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, held 30 years ago, had contributed to alleviating confrontation between the East and the West with about 160 countries in attendance. True to the Olympic spirit of peace, the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games aims to be an Olympics that will contribute to ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula, the last vestige of the Cold War.
On Nov. 14, the United Nations unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the stopping all hostile activities during the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. The Korean government, the IOC and the United Nations have joined forces to persuade North Korea to participate in the upcoming Olympics.
North Korea has to give its word on its participation, however. In the latest development, United Nations political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman returned from his visit to North Korea in which he discussed with North Korean officials ways to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon and former Olympic figure skating gold medalist Kim Yuna hold the PyeongChang Olympic flame at a flame relay ceremony at the 2nd passenger terminal of Incheon International Airport.
A group of 200 foreigners, including foreign diplomats staying in Korea, U.S. servicemen, and foreign businessmen, were invited and given an opportunity on Nov. 25 to look at the Olympic Stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games will take place and other facilities.
The delegation, headed by Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, took the KTX line, which will soon open for Olympic athletes and visitors, to participate in an event, dubbed “Pre-Opening.”
Twelve sporting venues ― five ice sport facilities in Gangneung, a ski jump slope, a cross country skiing venue, and a biathlon center and the Jeongseon Alpine Center, the Jeongseon Sliding Center, the Bogkwang Snow Center, and the Yongpyong Alpine Center ― have already been dedicated.
The Olympics will be an event armed with advanced ICT with a focus on five areas: 5G telecom network KT will demonstrate for the first time in the world; ultra high definition (UHD) TV; smart AI; and exciting virtual reality. People across the world will enjoy the Olympics without language barriers by making the Games an Olympic event memorable for all people around the world, and Gangwon-do a place worth visiting and revisiting.
Gangwon Province announced a plan to make the Olympics an event in which athletes and visitors can enjoy everywhere and every day. The provincial government set aside 58.2 billion won to present 41 programs in five areas, including performance and experiences/exhibitions under the theme “Cultural Aroma Soaks the World.”
The Cultural Olympic Implementation Committed, a civic expert group inaugurated in April, is working on the presentation of the cultural programs. A festival to celebrate the one year mark before the opening of the Winter Olympics took place to help build a foundation so it will become a “cultural Olympic event” by hosting large-scale festive celebrations, and an array of performances and exhibitions. Cultural events will be held to celebrate the D-50 and D-30 countdown to open the Olympiad on Dec. 21 and next Jan. 20, respectively.
K-pop superstars held a performance on the venue of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympiad, the first of its kind, on Nov. 4. In Wonju, the national culture and artist festival will take place Dec. 21 to Dec. 25, while the Chuncheon Romantic Festival will be held from Dec. 21 through Jan. 20. On Jan. 13, a fireworks festival will take place at Uiam Lake area in Chuncheon.
Cultural and art performance as well as exhibitions and experience events will be held at sports venues in such cities as Gangneung and PyeongChang during the Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Games.
Gangwon Province is concentrating on preparations to receive guests with a focus on making the province a memorable one and a place worth revisiting. First, it plans to make 1,400 “Olympic stay” accommodations and 2,000 “Olympic eateries” to offer a comfortable and pleasant accommodation and eating environment to spectators during the Olympic period.
To this end, projects to improve facilities are being implemented. The province is going to dramatically overhaul accommodation and restaurant services catering to foreigners. The provincial government plans to operate an integrated call center to provide information on accommodation facilities and eateries. Street signboards, old facilities, public toilets have been renovated to remove inconveniences Korean and foreign tourists experience during the Olympic period.
All sporting facilities have been built with a focus on eco-friendliness and an athlete-oriented paradigm, the preserving of the province’s breathtaking natural landscape and vegetation resources with a design concept stressing harmony between the province’s dynamic style and its surrounding environment to become an eco-friendly Olympic event.
Many athletes and sporting officials from 22 sports participating in pre-rehearsal events have given positive evaluations of the province’s natural environment, clean facilities and quality ice conditions.
To become an economical Olympic event, the Olympic Winter Games has a superb arrangement being situated between the PyeongChang Mountain Cluster focusing on snow and the Gangneung Coastal Cluster focusing on ice. The Jungbong Alpine Center and the Bogkwang Snow Center serve as outskirt sport facilities catering to alpine speed skating, snowboarding and free-style skiing. The two clusters within a 31-km distance of each other can be reached within 20 minutes thanks to transportation networks, including an expressway and a high-speed railway. Two outside sporting venues can be approached within 30 minutes of the main Athlete’s Village.
Transportation infrastructure issues have been solved with the construction of railway and expressway networks to prepare for the hosting of the Winter Olympic Games.
Gangwon Province is devoting itself to securing a “three-dimensional” transportation infrastructure for the cause of balanced national land development and the development of the province by making the hosting of the Winter Olympic Games a success and attracting investments and having tourist inflows.
Gangwon-do Gov. Choi Moon-soon, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Do Jong-hwan, and Chairman Lee Hee-beom of the PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee (POCOG) participate in a heads of agencies’ consultative meeting for the the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Games on Aug. 14. (Photos: POCOG)
Korea, China, Japan Cooperate in Spirit of PyeongChang 2018
Korea, China and Japan have agreed to cooperate to make the Olympic Winter Games a success, putting behind them the historical tension surrounding the installment of the U.S. Terminal Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and sex slaves during Japanese imperial rule.
Korea, China and Japan held the 9th Korean, Chinese and Japanese culture ministerial meeting at the guesthouse of Kyoto, Japan, on Aug. 26 and they agreed to cooperate in the successful hosting of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
The parties adopted the Kyoto Communique. The statement calls for cooperation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and Paralympics; full implementation of culture city project in East Asia; promotion of artists and youth exchanges among Korea, China and Japan; pushing for the protecting of cultural heritage; cooperation in the cultural industry sector; and the protection of intellectual property rights, according to the MCST. Japan will host the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympics while China will be the venue of 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games and Paralympics.