February 1 - International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge has praised Pyeongchang's early preparations for the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics after visiting the South Korean resort for the first time.
Rogge, who was accompanied by Gunilla Lindberg, chair of the IOC Coordination Commission, was shown around the facilties in Gangneung by Dong Hoo Moon, the secretary general of Pyeongchang 2018, who outlined plans for the different ice venues that are due to be built for the Games.
These included the ice skating and short track venue, the speed skating venue, and both ice hockey venues.
Rogge then attended a short track skating event at the Special Olympics World Winter Games, which opened in Pyeongchang on Tuesday (January 29) before visiting the site of the Gangneung Olympic and Media Villages.
He was then given in-depth briefing on the Alpensia cluster and visited some of the sports venues that are already in existence, including the ski jumping, Alpine technical, and snowboard and freestyle venues.
"Pyeongchang 2018 has made great progress since it was elected in Durban in 2011," said Rogge after returning to the South Korean capital.
"The venue concept for 2018 has been finalised, and having seen it firsthand over the past few days, I am confident that the athletes will be impressed by its compactness.
"With some of the venues already in use, Pyeongchang is on the right track to delivering its Games vision in 2018.
"It's nice scenery, it's very well organised, it's a modern concept of winter sports and I think it's going to be very good for the Games.
"It is state of the art.
"I'm glad to see that many of the venues are in use.
"We are extremely happy by the progress of the work and very optimistic.
"The success of the Games is measured by the happiness of the athletes; the Games are organised for the best athletes in the world.
"If we feel that the athletes are happy we are happy at the IOC.
"You need definitely to have a good organisation; you need a very comfortable Olympic Village; you need state-of-the-art venues; you need a good transport system; you need security and if you have all of that then the athletes will be happy."
Back in the capital, Rogge held talks with President Myung-bak Lee and President-elect Geun Hye Park – the first female President elected in South Korea.
He presented the Olympic Order to Lee, who himself awarded the Order of Sport Merit to Rogge.
"Sport in Korea is clearly a national priority," said Rogge.
"The support from the highest levels of Government is clear.
"I'm glad to say that President-elect Park has always been very positive.
"Koreans have much experience in hosting international sporting events such as the 1988 Seoul Olympics or the 2011 Daegu World Championships in Athletics.
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