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WHAT'S THE TRUTH ABOUT 2018 WINTER GAMES? - Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Wednesday September 5, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

The Pyeongchang Olympics made a profit + had huge debts. There's no legacy + there's a bright future ahead. What's the truth about the Olympics that nearly didn't happen?



The questions are still there more than six months after what was considered to be a successful sporting Games, not least for Team GB which had its best Winter Olympics.

In August the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, admitted publicly that Pyeongchang was "very close" to being cancelled over security fears:

Back in June the President of the Organising Committee insisted that the Games had made a profit:

But Choi Moon-soon, the governor of Gangwon Province, has now told a South Korean newspaper that it has been left with "massive debt" and requires urgent assistance from the government to pay around £14 million in order to keep sports facilities open until 2022.

It seems that nothing has happened at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre, which hosted the speed events including the downhill, or two other venues, the Gangneung Hockey Centre and the Gangneung Oval.

Gangneung Ice Arena & OvalGangneung Ice Arena & Oval - photo IOC













There's also concern about the future of the bobsleigh, luge & skeleton track at the Alpensia Sliding Centre.

"Most of the Olympic legacies have either been demolished or are gathering dust, causing a tremendous amount of disappointment for local residents," Choi Moon-soon told The Chosun Ilbo.

"We need urgent financial support from the Government."

The newspaper says Gangwon Province hosted the biggest Winter Olympics to date and the "astronomically expensive venues sit empty".

It says the province has asked the South Korean government to foot the bill for 75 per cent of the upkeep of the unused facilities but the request has been refused.

Sliding centreAlpensia Sliding Centre - photo Team GB














Over the years, it's been a familiar complaint after both Summer and Winter Games that venues fall into disuse and become white elephants, but the bidding process requires organisers to have legacy plans in place to prevent venues being left unused.

Now the Pyeongchang 2018 Organising Committee has insisted that legacy plans are in place.

We're just not being told what they are, and that's probably because there's no agreement on the way ahead.

There is an ongoing debate about whether the Jeongseon Alpine Centre should continue to be available for skiing or be reforested.

It was built on the site of a national forest.

Jeongseon Alpine CentreJeongseon Alpine Centre - photo IOC













"The Korea Forest Service and environmental groups stand firm to restore the hillside and replant thousands of trees on the site of the Jeongseon Alpine Centre while Gangwon Province and Jeongseon County urge to maintain the Alpine venue," Pyeongchang 2018 said in a statement.

"Currently, mediation is underway at the Government level."

It added that a number of venues had already been turned into community centres, recreational or elite sports centres.

Meanwhile, the organisers are also insisting that when the final figures are available, they will demonstrate that Pyeongchang 2018 made a financial surplus.

We await them with interest.

No doubt the dwindling number of potential host cities for the 2026 Winter Olympics are watching closely too.


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