Event sharing for Pyeongchang Olympics could save more than $300 million

Posted on : 2015-03-09 15:38 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Government and organizers resisting event sharing, saying there isn’t enough time to change venues

Event sharing at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics could save 372 billion won (about US$330million), according to a simulation run by the Hankyoreh and two well-established architecture firms in which certain Olympic events were moved to other sites.

Event-sharing sites were chosen for the simulation that would increase economic efficiency without detracting from the identity of the Olympics being held in Gangwon Province: the men’s and women‘s ice hockey rinks, the figure skating and short track rinks, and three ski slopes.

While the event venues in the substitute areas would need to be expanded or augmented, this additional construction work could be completed within 12 months, the simulation showed. This conclusion contradicts the argument of the government and the Olympic organizing committee that there is not enough time to consider event sharing.

Currently, 107.9 billion won (US$970.85 million) is allotted for building the men’s ice hockey rink in Gangneung. However, if the Olympic swimming pool located in Olympic Park in the Bangi neighborhood of Seoul were to be renovated for use as an ice hockey rink, it would save 76.8 billion won, even after factoring in the sunk cost (12.9 billion won) and the cost of remodeling the pool (18.3 billion won).

Furthermore, if the events scheduled for the women’s ice hockey rink being built at Catholic Kwandong University were held instead at the ice rink in Mokdong, Seoul, and if the figure skating and short track events scheduled for the ice arena in Gangneung were held instead at the Olympic gymnastics arena, costs could be cut by 36.9 billion won and 83.3 billion won respectively.

According to the simulation, a plan to use Muju Resort in North Jeolla Province instead of the alpine ski course being built at Jung Peak at Gariwang Mountain in Jeongseon County would reduce costs by 163.8 billion won.

The event-sharing venues in the simulation were designed in accordance with the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) technical manual, which serves as the standard for Olympic event venues.

The debate about event sharing at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics began after Agenda 2020, a reform plan for making the Olympics more sustainable that was spearheaded by IOC President Thomas Bach, was unanimously approved by the IOC on Dec. 8, 2014.

President Park Geun-hye expressed her opposition to the idea, describing event-sharing as “meaningless.” Since the remarks, the opinion of the Pyeongchang Olympics organizing committee and Gangwon Province has been that, since the test events are scheduled for next year, there realistically is not enough time for event sharing.

Nevertheless, the idea of spreading out events inside South Korea continues to be discussed, since this option is more practical than hosting some events in a foreign country or in North Korea.

“Our experience with the Asian Games in Busan and Incheon and with the Formula One race has shown us that sporting events do not bring economic benefits. Therefore, beginning a discussion about relocating some of the events is in the interest not only of Gangwon Province but of the entire country,” said Kim Sang-cheol, researcher at the National Finance Institute.

While nearly three years remain before the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics kick off on Feb. 9, 2018, there are only one or two years left before the test events, which are held before the Olympics to assess the event venues.

The Pyeongchang Olympics organizing committee is leery of relocating Olympic events, concerned that doing so would disrupt the schedule for the test events. But if a swift decision were made in favor of event sharing, the test events could be held with no problems.

Ordinarily, test events are held one season before the Olympics take place. However, the International Ski Federation (FIS), which organizes the ski events, has made the unusual request of holding its test events two seasons in advance.


By Yoon Hyung-joong and Heo Seung, staff reporters


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