Lee Hee-beom insists Pyeongchang 2018 will be a success ©Getty Images

Pyeongchang 2018 President Lee Hee-beom has downplayed accommodation and ticketing concerns while calling for all countries, including North Korea and Russia, to participate at next year's Olympics and Paralympics.

He spoke at a time of continuing apathy about attending the first South Korean Winter Games across both the host nation and the wider world.

Lee, who delivered a presentation to the IOC Executive Board here yesterday which received no questions afterwards, did admit that more needs to be done to promote the event in many countries.

It follows an announcement late last month that only 22.7 per cent of tickets had been sold by the end of August - the lowest figure at a comparative stage in recent Winter Olympic history.

The official once again blamed Authorised Ticket Resellers (ATRs) for making their packages too expensive and not promoting the Games better in certain countries.

"Our feeling is that, in some countries, ATRs are not as active as expected," Lee told insidethegames.

"For example, the United States, where we received some complaints from Los Angeles, New York [City] and Washington that Jet Set are not so active in promoting ticket sales. 

"In China and Japan, we also received some complaints. 

"In Japan, some people are saying that the cost of the packaged tickets is too high. 

"For each separate tickets we have limits with 20 per cent margins, but with the package there are no restrictions, so they are utilising these rules."

Interest in Pyeongchang 2018 still remains low ©Getty Images
Interest in Pyeongchang 2018 still remains low ©Getty Images

Lee hopes to arrange a meeting with National Olympic Committees in Japan and China in order to address problems.

In terms of domestic sales, which have been particularly low outside Seoul, Lee claims to be confident that improvements will take place.

"We have lots of strategies to have full stadia," he added.

"I've already sent letters to local Governments and school administrations to participate and, it is the holiday season, so an especially good occasion for the students."

One major difficulty for potential spectators has been the expense and difficulty of finding hotel rooms.

Lee concedes that 10 still remain to be completed but is confident that they will be ready by December.

This would supposedly mean that there would be room for 42,000 spectators within a one hour radius of the Olympic Plaza.

"We have fixed prices of around $300 (£225/€250) €to $400 (£300/€330) [per night]," he claimed.

"This is not so expensive."

Once the high speed railway line linking Seoul and Gangneung opens in December, it is hoped that this will reduce journey times to 1 hour 15min.

A journey from Incheon Airport to the Olympic sites should be completed in two hours.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in pictured buying Pyeongchang 2018 tickets ©Getty Images
South Korean President Moon Jae-in pictured buying Pyeongchang 2018 tickets ©Getty Images

Lee, speaking on the eve of another presentation at the IOC Session starting here tomorrow, also claimed to remain hopeful that National Hockey League (NHL) players could still participate in the men's tournament.

"I don’t think NHL’s decision is final, so we are continuously discussing this issue with the International Ice Hockey Federation," he said. 

"We do have enough time until the final registration [deadline] in January and we are still expecting for the NHL to change their mind and come to the Pyeongchang Olympic Games."

There appears no real suggestion that the NHL are close to a late U-turn, though, following their announcement in April that they would not participate for the first time since their first appearance at Nagano 1998.

Lee was adamant that all other countries should participate.

This includes Russia, whose participation under their own flag is still in doubt before the completion of two IOC-commissioned investigations on evidence of institutional doping at Sochi 2014.

Lee Hee-beom hopes all countries will participate, including Russia ©Getty Images
Lee Hee-beom hopes all countries will participate, including Russia ©Getty Images

North Korea are also yet to qualify amid continual regional tensions following a series of missile launches.

There is no Tripartite Commission wildcard system in place for the Winter Olympics.

But, if no North Koreans qualify, there still remains some flexibility to find a way in a similar vein to the creation of a Refugees Olympic Team at Rio 2016.

"We are still opening our doors for the best quality athletes to come to the Pyeongchang Olympics," Lee told insidethegames.

"We hope that all NOCs, including Russia and North Korea, will come.

"I have never thought of an Olympic Games without Russia or without any other countries."