Olympics: Bach in Seoul to review re-energized 2018 Games prep

Olympics: Bach in Seoul to review re-energized 2018 Games prep
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach gives his closing remarks during a press conference at the conclusion of the 128th International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Kuala Lumpur on August 3, 2015.

SEOUL - Olympics chief Thomas Bach met Wednesday with South Korean organisers of the 2018 Winter Games - now firmly on track after initial concerns over construction delays, funding woes and sponsor indifference.

The Games in the mountain resort of Pyeongchang will be the biggest ever - with a record 102 events - and the first Winter Games to be held in an Asian country other than Japan.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) president held talks with the Pyeongchang organising committee chairman Cho Yang-Ho, a prominent South Korean business tycoon who has been credited with orchestrating a turnaround in preparations.

After Seoul, Bach was scheduled to fly to Beijing, which only last month was chosen to host the 2022 Winter Games.

The IOC picked Pyeongchang as the host in 2011, favouring it over the German city of Munich and French Alpine town of Annecy.

But the project soon ran into trouble and, by the time Cho took over as organising committee supremo a year ago, venues were behind schedule, sponsors were nowhere to be found and the provincial and central governments were arguing about financing.

At recently as January this year, the IOC was warning that preparations were off the pace, and there were suggestions - sternly rejected by the organisers - that Japan be asked to co-host some events.

Cho, the 66-year-old chairman of the sprawling, family-run Hanjin Group conglomerate, with interests in construction, shipbuilding and commercial aviation, has managed to address most of the concerns.

All construction has now started and should be finished for test events scheduled for February.

Major South Korean companies like Samsung and LG have agreed to support the Games and automaker Hyundai was the latest key sponsor to sign up.

Cho has said he is confident that three-quarters of the targeted $850 million of sponsorship would be committed by the end of the year.

"We are not perfect yet but we are trying very hard to make a perfect Olympic Games in 2018," Cho said at an IOC meet in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month.

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