Pyeongchang 2018 need to “increase the speed” of progress in its preparations to host the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in three years time, International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission chair Gunilla Lindberg said here today.
Concerns have been prominent in the build-up to the Games, particularly regarding construction of venues and sponsorship, but these were allayed somewhat when IOC President Thomas Bach hailed the “great progress” Pyeongchang 2018 had made when he visited South Korea in August.
Lindberg, who is also secretary general of the Association of National Olympic Committees, has been critical of preparations in the past but admitted she was "satisfied" following the fourth Coordination Commission meeting in March.
Her comments came after the IOC urged Pyeongchang 2018 to speed up progress in February, setting up a task force to try to help get the Games get back on track and ease fears the event is facing trouble.
The task force continues to meet regularly, a Pyeongchang 2018 spokesperson told insidethegames, in an attempt to maintain dialogue between all concerned parties.
Speaking during the opening remarks of the fifth Coordination Commission visit, which began here yesterday and concludes tomorrow, Lindberg praised organisers for their “impressive” progress but warned there is work to be done ahead of the Opening Ceremony, which takes place in 870 days.
“As you prepare to deliver your first test events, we encourage you to increase the speed of this progress and to look into all necessary details,” the Swede said.
“This is the best way to pursue our common objective: delivering the best Olympic Winter Games that the Republic of Korea can offer the world.
“The progress that we witnessed between the last Commission visit and the Project Review in July was very impressive and we saw more of that progress yesterday on the venue tour.”
Lindberg went on to claim the new high-speed rail network, which will link capital city Seoul with Pyeongchang, was “advancing well”, despite concerns it may not be ready in time to undergo full and stringent testing.
The railway, due to be completed in the summer of 2017, was the source of controversy in 2012 after the South Korean Government were forced to deny reports they had misled the IOC by promising to build a direct bullet train between Incheon and Pyeongchang that would cut travelling time to just 68 minutes.
Another problem faced by Pyeongchang 2018 was an apparent lack of top-level sponsors, which has put a financial strain on local and national Government authorities to cover costs.
The pressure was alleviated by the announcement of Hyundai and Kia Motors, South Korea's best known car manufacturer and the world's fourth largest, as a domestic sponsor for the event in July.
Organising Committee President Cho Yang-ho expects more to be signed in the near future, adding “following the implementation of an aggressive marketing plan we have now reached 51 per cent of our target”.
"We continue to make headway with several companies and plan more announcements in future,” he said.
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