Pyeongchang 2018 President Lee Hee-beom excitement for the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games is building in South Korea, despite the political crisis in the country.
In a progress update, given prior to the “One Year to Go” milestone on February 9, Pyeongchang 2018 also stressed preparations for the first-ever Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in South Korea are in full swing.
Earlier this week, Lee admitted the political scandal disrupting all aspects of South Korean society is affecting promotional work and sponsorship revenue for the Games.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye is currently facing impeachment proceedings.
Technology giants Samsung, a key backer of Pyeongchang 2018 and a leading International Olympic Committee (IOC) TOP sponsor, have also been implicated in connection with their alleged links to Choi Soon-sil.
Choi, the 60-year-old advisor of Park, who allegedly exerted “undue influence” on policy-making, despite having no official Government role, has been accused of having influenced the tender process for Pyeongchang 2018 venues.
Promotion and legacy plans were a hot topic during the IOC Coordination Commission visit in October, with Gunilla Lindberg warning organisers they must improve in this area to avoid harming the image of the Games.
Lee also revealed that a high-speed rail network linking South Korea’s capital Seoul with Pyeongchang will be ready for testing in the summer of this year.
The railway, a key aspect of South Korea’s successful bid for the Games in 2011, was the source of controversy in 2012 after the South Korean Government were forced to deny claims they had misled the IOC by promising to build a direct bullet train between Incheon on the west coast of Korea and Pyeongchang on the east coast that would cut travelling time to just 68 minutes.
It is set to reduce the commute to around two hours.
“Transport is a key area of the Pyeongchang preparations and will be a key element for spectators planning their Olympic experience whether they are coming from South Korea or further afield,” Pyeongchang 2018 said in the statement.
“The high-speed railway that will bring you from Seoul to the slopes in well under two hours will be ready for testing this summer, and the srecond Yeongdong Express Highway that was completed last year is already making huge improvements to travel time and bringing increased numbers of people to Pyeongchang by car.”
Pyeongchang 2018 are hoping 70 per cent of ticket sales will come from locals, with the other 30 per cent made up of spectators from overseas.
Organisers have also vowed to “encourage people of all ages to feel the passion and be part of the Games”.
“The next 12 months are a busy time for Pyeongchang 2018 with much work to be done but now is the time to create the hype and excitement so that everyone has the opportunity to be touched by the Games and be part of this remarkable event,” Pyeongchang 2018 added.
The schedule of test events for the Games was also mentioned in the update, while Pyeongchang 2018 have said the average completion rate for the six new competition venues is now above 96.3 per cent.
Pyeongchang 2018 claim “things are progressing well and are ahead of schedule”.
Liam Morgan, insidethegames.biz