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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Feb. 28)

2018/02/28 07:06

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After the party

:Time to figure out what to do with PyeongChang

Korea's first Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang came to a rousing success despite being held in one of the nation's most underdeveloped regions.

The peace-making between the two Koreas through the Olympics is the most visible legacy of PyeongChang 2018. But other aspects also stand out. There was a surge of positive reviews of Olympic operations in the international media, particularly regarding the competition venues and the athletes' villages.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach lauded PyeongChang 2018 as the "Games of new horizons" during the closing ceremony Sunday at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium. The event was the largest Winter Olympics in history, with 2,920 athletes from 92 nations taking part.

Gunilla Lindberg, chair of the IOC Coordination Commission, hailed a "Korean combination of pragmatism, determination and commitment" for the success of the Games.

Lee Hee-beom, president of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, called the Games a financial success due to active corporate donations and ticket sales, overturning overwhelming concerns of a huge deficit.

It is too early to give a definite assessment because the lasting success of the Games depends on how Korea builds on PyeongChang's legacy. It is uncertain how the government will turn the Olympic host city into a hub of winter sports and tourism. This has been a problem for past Winter Olympic host cities, and it will be harder for PyeongChang because Korea does not have a strong tradition of winter sports.

A lot of money was spent on building new competition facilities and refurbishing existing venues in PyeongChang and adjacent areas including Gangneung and Jeongseon. It is particularly worrisome that there are no definite plans for some of the costly competition venues, including the hockey and speed skating venues in Gangneung, after the Paralympic Games, to be held March 9 to 18.

Hosting winter sports events is a good way to make use of Olympic facilities and promote winter sports. The Olympic Games provided an occasion for the development of winter sports in Korea. This can be seen in Korea's first-ever Olympic medals in sports such as skeleton, curling, snowboarding and bobsleigh. Gangwon Province is pushing to host the 2021 Winter Asian Games.

The central and local governments should continue to consult closely to come up with ways to take advantage of PyeongChang's identity as one of the rare winter Olympic hosts in Asia.