Pyeongchang's preparations for the 2018 Winter Games got a thumbs up from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Thursday, a stark contrast to ongoing concerns over Rio de Janeiro's tardy progress for the 2016 summer Games.
An IOC coordination commission inspected Olympic villages, the sliding center and venues for speed skating, figure skating, short track, ice hockey and curling at the South Korean mountain resort, and were clearly impressed.
“We have had three excellent days of meetings and I'd like to congratulate President Kim (Jin-sun) of POCOG [PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee] and his team for the quality of their work,” commission chair Gunilla Lindberg said in a statement.
“We were able to see that a large amount has been accomplished by POCOG and its partners since our last visit in June 2013,” Lindberg said. “The 2018 Games are on the right track but it is clear that much work remains. We are confident that POCOG and Korea will deliver great Games for the athletes in 2018.”
The commission advised the organizing committee to focus on four key areas — marketing, venue construction, test events and Games service — in the next six months.
They were happy with the progress of a new highway and the high-speed train connections with capital Seoul, which the commission felt would leave a great legacy for South Korea.
“The third Coordination Commission meeting was the first one after Sochi, and it was especially meaningful because we had the high-level representatives of the international winter sports federations with us this time,” Kim said.
“With what came out of these discussions, we will ensure seamless preparation of 'Best Games' in order to make the PyeongChang 2018 Games something special, something different and something unique.
“This year is a big turning point for us," added Kim. "We must establish a solid framework. As I always stress, we have no time to practice and no time for trial and error.”
The commission will return again in November to take stock of progress.
Rio organizers this week came under fire when IOC vice president John Coates said they were critically behind schedule and the situation was “the worst” he had ever witnessed.