March 22 - Pyeongchang's early preparations for the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics were praised here today by Gunilla Lindberg, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission, which completed its first visit to the South Korean city since they were awarded the Games last July.
The three-day visit included a tour of the venues and a series of meetings with Jin Sun Kim, the former Governor of Gangwon Province, who has been appointed as President and chief executive of the Pyeongchang Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (POCOG).
Among the venues the Commission visited were here in Alpensia, which included ski jumping and biathlon, and Gangneung, the costal cluster which will be home to the ice sports, including skating and hockey.
"We were pleased by the high quality of presentations that were delivered by the very capable team at Pyeongchang 2018," said Lindberg.
"They have a good grasp of what is expected of them and what they need to accomplish.
"They have taken full advantage of the bid process to learn from the IOC and previous Olympic hosts and this is clearly reflected in their current work.
"We were particularly pleased that construction is already starting on the Olympic Village and that a clear construction calender is in place for those venues that need to be built."
Lindberg already has intimiate knowledge of Pyeongchang's plans as she led the Evaluation Commission, which last year analysed their bid, along with those of rivals Annecy and Munich.
"The compactness and also the readiness of many of the venues is fantastic," said the Swede.
"It is a good Olympic concept and we could see everything was going ahead as reported to us during the Evaluation Commission.
"Organising the Games is a team effort and it was important for us to see the good ties and integration that POCOG has with the local authorities at all levels.
"This has continued from the bid process.
"There are 2,149 days remaining until the Pyeongchang 2018 Games open and a lot of work must be accomplished between now and then.
"We wish the POCGO good luck and are confident that they will deliver exceptional Games for the athletes, for the fans and for the Republic of Korea."
When asked what specific challenges Pyeongchang faced, Lindberg claimed she believed they were already well on the way to meeting them.
"This is the start of a six-year journey to have everything ready and to be able to host the Games in 2018," she told insidethegames.
"Of course, there are a lot of things to be done but I must say I have been very impressed by their plans.
"They already have a very thorough planning of the legacy for the Games, which is very important."
Kim, who had led Pyeongchang's unsuccessful bids for the 2010 and 2014 Olympics before being picked to lead the Organising Committee, was understandably pleased with the first report card he and his colleagues received.
"It was a rewarding inaugural meeting with the Coordination Commission under the astute leadership of Mrs Lindberg," he said.
"The positive appraisals and invaluable advice will serve us in the years to come.
"We would like to express our gratitude to every member of the Coordination Commission and IOC administration, and to the national and local Governments, as well as the Korean Olympic Committee."
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