Located about 126 km from Seoul in Gangwon, the scenic Pyeongchang ski resorts have been known to only several people for their cool, crisp air and picturesque scenery. However, these resorts are now ready for their major turn in the spotlight. Chosen on July 2011 to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, the area of Pyeongchang has rapidly developed from a small-scale vacation spot into several grand stadiums and ski slopes in order to welcome about 300,000 spectators to the Winter Paralympics.
Recently, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the huge progress made so far by the Pyeongchang Olympics Committee (POC) on preparing for the Paralympic Winter Games. According to the Korea Times, Gunilla Lindberg, the IOC Coordination Commission Chief, confidently concluded after visiting Pyeongchang for the ninth and final time that although details must still continue to be fine-tuned in the coming months to ensure the success of the Winter Paralympics, the developments in venues and the efforts the POC made so far to engage with Olympic fans are extremely satisfactory. Simply put, she claimed that she is fully confident that Pyeongchang is ready to invite spectators from all around the globe.
“I decided to purchase tickets for the Olympics not only because I have never lived in a country that is hosting it, but also because I feel great respect towards the people who worked so hard to help organize this huge event up to a level of success,” said Johnathan Ames, social studies teacher. “In addition, I am really looking forward to trying out and seeing new infrastructure like the new high-speed rail, which takes only 55 minutes from Eastern Seoul to Pyeongchang.”
Out of the numerous notable aspects of the Pyeongchang Olympics, the IOC claimed that the different types of infrastructure established in the Gangneung area were developing at an impressive speed. The POC boasts venues ranging from skating rinks with a seating capacity of 12,000 people to enormous ski slopes up to 15 km high to impress and attract viewers from all around the world. Furthermore, the host country kept its viewers updated by promising to complete these venues soon, since the POC is already 96.5% finalized with building all infrastructures, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
“I think what most people are looking forward to the most in the Pyeongchang Olympics is watching skilled athletes compete among themselves in a variety of sports,” Amy Kim (10) said. “However, for me, I’m more excited to see the newly developed infrastructure in Pyeongchang I heard about in the news lately, since it is amazing how these ski resorts I remember as being small and picturesque, could make a huge transformation into a compilation of many great venues in only a few years.”
Although the Winter Olympics is expected to be a flawless success next year, a question was raised regarding the use of the infrastructure in the Gangneung area. After mentioning the satisfactory aspects of the preparation during a press conference at the Alpenisa Convention Center in Pyeongchang, Gunilla Lindberg switched her focus onto questioning more serious matters regarding what will be done to the venues after the Olympics. More specifically, the IOC stressed its concerns about this issue by reinstating that the POC, along with the national government, must come up with a solid long-term plan regarding the expensive and high-quality venues as soon as possible.
“What to do with the venues after the Olympics is the dilemma for all countries who host major games,” said Ricky Green, physical education instructor. “Some cities have got it horribly wrong and stadiums have become derelict over time. The Korean Olympic committee needs to look at viable options for these venues once the winter Olympics is over. Maybe Pyeongchang can be become the excellence center for all Korean winter athletes to practice and improve their skills and the Ice Skating rink could possibly be converted into a different type of venue and sold as commercial property.”
Despite the lack of plans regarding how to deal with the infrastructure after the Winter Paralympics currently, there are more reasons to be excited about this upcoming event. Not only will there be a variety of venues to greet all the Olympic fans worldwide, but there will also be a great assemblage of unique and talented athletes ranging from Chloe Kim, one of the most skilled snowboarders in the US, to the Nigerian Bobsled team, the first team from Africa to compete in the Winter Olympics. Thus, as the IOC stated, the Pyeongchang Olympics is definitely ready to welcome the world.