IOC says Pyeongchang off pace for 2018 Games

� Pool/AFP/File Jung Yeon-JeThe mayor of Pyeongchang Lee Seok-Rae waves the Olympic flag after the handover ceremony during the closing of the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 23, 2014Seoul (AFP) – The International Olympic Committee flagged serious concerns Friday over the pace of preparations for the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, after acceding to the organisers’ refusal to move some events to Japan.
While noting progress made since her last inspection visit, the head of the IOC’s Coordination Commission for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, Gunilla Lindberg, said much remained to be done.
“Timelines in a number of areas remain tight including for test events,” Lindberg said in a statement, urging the organisers to “accelerate their work and reorganisation in order to ensure the successful delivery of the venues.”
The IOC picked Pyeongchang as the host in 2011, favouring it over the German city of Munich, and French Alpine town Annecy.
Preparations have run into financial difficulties and the organisers have urged the South Korean government to pay more toward the cost of a new main stadium.
In a bid to lower the cost of future Games, the IOC adopted a series of reforms last month allowing hosts more flexibility in the sports they stage and where they stage them.
At the time, it was mooted that Pyeongchang might consider shifting some sliding events — such as bobsleigh and luge — to Nagano in Japan.
South Korea firmly rejected the idea, and Lindberg made it clear Friday that the possibility of changing or moving venues was no longer up for discussion.
The organisers and the South Korean government “have made it clear that they will maintain their current venue plan,” Lindberg said.
“As a result, the venue masterplan is now finalised,” she added.
Sharing events with Japan would have been especially tricky, as relations between the two countries are at their lowest ebb for years, with their respective governments at loggerheads over a number of territorial and historical disputes.

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