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PyeongChang 2018 President Lee Hee-beom in Sapporo on Tuesday.
Sapporo hospitality impresses PyeongChang 2018 President

21 Feb 2017
Sapporo, Japan, February 21, 2017: The President of the organising committee for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, Mr Lee Hee-beom, believes the winter sports landscape is changing. Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday on the sidelines of the OCA’s 8th Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Mr Lee said that the Winter Olympics had been largely the domain of Europe and North America, with the exception of Japan’s hosting at Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998.

However, with PyeongChang, Korea, hosting the next Winter Olympics in February 2018, followed by Beijing in 2022, Mr Lee said this would create a new winter sports scene across Asia, particularly in Korea, China and Japan. Evidence of this could already be seen by the presence of South East Asian nations Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia in the Sapporo Asian Winter Games, he said.

Mr Lee explained that PyeongChang 2018 had a strong legacy programme in place to prevent the 12 competition venues from becoming Olympic white elephants. He was referring in particular to the stadiums built for ice sports at Gangneung, 50km away from the main host city of PyeongChang.

“Of the 12 venues, six are new and six renovated,” he said. “Ten of them will be for private ownership, including the Gangneung Hockey Centre, which will be for the Gangneung University. “Regarding the two other venues, we are now discussing this with the government and Gangwon province.”

He also felt sure that, with Beijing 2022, many teams and athletes would use PyeongChang and Gangneung for training camps, keeping the venues busy. Mr Lee said he had been very impressed with Sapporo 2017, particularly the hospitality of the local people and the volunteers, the abundance of natural snow and beauty of the landscape, and said he felt sure that Sapporo was well suited to hosting the Winter Olympics again with its perfect conditions. 

He praised the authorities for the way the venues from the 1972 Winter Olympics had been so well preserved and in use for Sapporo 2017, almost 50 years later. “We want to learn the nice hospitality Sapporo has given to us,” he said.

Mr Lee said PyeongChang 2018 would be an Olympics of economy, peace, culture, environment and state-of-the art technology, with robots to greet the visitors and an automatic translation system involving eight languages.
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