Friday, February 18, 2011

South Korea pledges $17.5 million for Paralympics in bid for 2018 winter Olympics

From AFP:

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — South Korea's eastern alpine resort of Pyeongchang promised Feb. 16 to spend about $17.5 million on Paralympic facilities as part of its bid for the 2018 winter Olympics.

The proposal came as a 14-member International Olympic Committee evaluation team began a four-day inspection, bid officials said on condition of anonymity.

Pyeongchang lost out to Vancouver for the 2010 Games and to the Russian resort of Sochi for 2014.

The resort, 180 kilometres (112 miles) east of Seoul, is competing with Annecy in France and Germany's Munich for the 2018 event. The winner will be announced at the IOC General Assembly in Durban on July 6.

Pyeongchang officials said presentations Wednesday to IOC inspectors included venues, accommodation, transport and environmental issues.

Organisers said 86,000 hotel and motel rooms would be available for spectators on top of 25,000 rooms for competitors, coaches and officials if it wins the bid.

It also promised a big cash injection to improve facilities for the disabled at all venues.

After attending presentations, the IOC team will tour potential venues for events such as alpine skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping, ice hockey and figure skating.

President Lee Myung-Bak visited Pyeongchang Tuesday to welcome the IOC team.

The winter Olympics "is an aspiration of not only Gangwon province residents, but also the entire 50 million people" of South Korea, he said at a separate dinner with South Korean officials.

South Korea is eagerly eyeing a third world sporting event after staging the 1988 Summer Olympics and co-hosting the 2002 World Cup with Japan.

Sports officials concede that winning the IOC vote will not be easy but Pyeongchang remains confident. It has worked to overcome weaknesses in catering, logistics, transport and accommodation.

The province has already invested more than $1.5 billion to build new facilities.