International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission chair Gunilla Lindberg says she is “totally convinced” venues will be ready in time to stage Pyeongchang 2018 test events despite the hectic schedule, while reiterating that deadlines remain tight here today.
A total of 28 test events will be held over the next two years, starting with an International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine World Cup and an FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Cup in February 2016.
FIS President Gian-Franco Kasper, who has led the skiing governing body since 1998, had warned earlier this year how it would be "impossible" to stage the competitions as planned.
These suggestions were dismissed by the Organising Committee, however, and Kasper now claims he is "confident" they will take place as scheduled.
Despite urging Pyeongchang 2018 to “increase the speed” of construction, Lindberg has faith that the organisers will deliver on their promises, although she warned they must “maintain their focus” ahead of a busy lead-up to the Games, which begin with the Opening Ceremony on February 9.
Lindberg spoke after the conclusion of three days of inspections here this afternoon, during which Commission members discussed a broad range of Games-related issues with organisers.
“We realise there is a tight schedule but during our visit we have been totally convinced they will be ready in time,” the Swede, also secretary general of the Association of National Olympic Committees, said.
“When they guarantee the test events will take place as scheduled we trust them.
“The progress in the construction has been fantastic.
“The competition sites remain on schedule for the Games but the organisers need to maintain their focus, as some delivery dates are very close to the start of the test events.
“It is important that Pyeongchang 2018 delivers these events successfully and, in particular, the first events next February, in order to create a solid basis for its planning and preparations for the Games.
“There are always challenges in organising Olympic Games but they have sped up progress, particularly in the last year or so.”
During the visit, the Coordination Commission, who were joined by representatives from the seven Winter Sports Federations, visited the Alpensia Sliding Centre, a venue that had caused controversy locally due to reported spiralling costs, with Pyeongchang 2018 claiming it is now 47 per cent complete.
They also inspected the Jeongseon Alpine Centre, which will play host to downhill, super G and alpine combined competitions during the Games.
Lindberg also confirmed to insidethegames that discussions remain ongoing regarding the use of National Hockey League players at the Winter Olympic Games in two-and-a-half years’ time.
As well as fears over venue construction, there have also been concerns about the lack of top-level sponsorship the event has attracted, with Pyeongchang 2018 President Cho Yang-ho revealing only 51 per cent of their target has been reached thus far, though he expects more deals to be announced in the near future.
“It has been a very productive three days,” he added.
“I feel that we are moving in the right direction to stage a great Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
The next Coordination Commission visit is scheduled for March 2016, with the sixth Project Review due to take place in December.
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