SEOUL (Reuters) - The organizing committee for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics (POCOG) held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the launch of construction of the Athletes Village on Tuesday.
Gunilla Lindberg, who chairs the International Olympic Committee’s coordination committee for Asia’s first Winter Games outside Japan, said she was confident POCOG would make sure the facility was of the highest quality.
Lindberg and POCOG President Cho Yang-ho were among those present at the ceremony. Construction is due to be completed in 2017 and will house around 3,500 athletes traveling to the South Korean alpine town for the Games.
“The Olympic Village is the heart of the Olympic Games,” the Swede said in a statement. “It is a special place where athletes from around the world come together to prepare and celebrate in peace and harmony under the Olympic values.
“I am confident that this Village will be a good facility for the athletes and I know that President Cho and his team will spare no effort to deliver the best conditions and services possible for those Olympians staying here in 2018.”
The coordination committee is meeting in Pyeongchang for the fifth time to assess progress in preparations, which got off to a slow start but have hit full stride this year.
Concerns about costs and construction delays had raised speculation earlier this year that some of the events might have to be moved away from Pyeongchang, perhaps even to Japan.
However, those concerns have eased and major South Korean companies such as Samsung, Korean Air and LG have agreed to pour in funds to support the Games in Pyeongchang, some 180 kilometers east of the capital Seoul.
“POCOG is committed to building a Village that will provide the best environment for athletes so they can be in optimal condition for their competition,” said POCOG President Cho.
POCOG said in the statement that after the Games the accommodation would be sold to the public, saving organizers around $8 million. It also expected the construction projects to provide an economic boost to the area.
Editing by Ian Ransom