Gangwon Governor Condemns Olympic Committee Suggestion

D-Bo , Dec. 11, 2014, 11:44 a.m.

Gangwon Province Governor Choi Moon-soon on Wednesday joined a chorus of condemnation of cost-saving proposals by the International Olympics Committee.  The IOC suggested moving some events for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in the province to existing facilities elsewhere.

"If we have to consider economic reasons, we will demolish the venues after the Olympics to reduce the burden of maintaining them," he said. "I don't think splitting the events would save us a lot of money." 

He recalled that it was Gangwon Province that signed the deal to host the 2018 Olympics in Durban, South Africa, in 2011, not the central government. "We'll discuss it with the government and the IOC, but it will be Gangwon Province that makes the final decision," Choi said. 

The organizers plan to use seven existing facilities among the 13 venues for the Olympics. Of the six that need to be newly built, there are already plans for the usage of four venues beyond the Games, except for the speed skating ice rink and the stadium for the opening and the closing ceremonies.

For the speed skating arena, Gangwon Province has signed a memorandum of understanding with One Mount, a Goyang-based business that runs theme parks and shopping malls, to use the facility after the Olympics. 

Discussions about the later use of the stadium for the opening and the closing ceremonies are under way. Seoul National University could use it as a campus, or the Korean Film Council could use it as a Korean film center. 

"The IOC is worried without much palpable justification that Pyeongchang could turn out like Sochi after the Games," Choi said, which ended up a crumbling ghost town after the winter games.

He insisted Korea needs its own bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton slides "for the development of the sport."   "The venues are currently being built in a way that makes them easy to demolish," he added.

Choi said there is not enough time to discuss sharing some events with another city or country, and he is concerned about the repercussions of breaking contracts with builders if the IOC's proposal goes ahead. 

He also promised to meet with the head of the Pyeongchang Olympic organizing committee, Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho, to discuss whether there has been a communication problem with the IOC. 

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