Olympics: Pyeongchang starts work on athletes' village

SEOUL - South Korean Olympic organisers held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday to launch construction of the athletes' village for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

Construction of the $152 million village housing some 3,500 athletes will be completed in September 2017, said the organising committee for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics (POCOG).

After the games the accommodation will be sold to the public as individual apartments, saving organisers more than $8.5 million, it said.

The ceremony was attended by POCOG president Cho Yang-Ho and Gunilla Lindberg, who chairs the International Olympic Committee's coordination committee.

"It is a special place where athletes from around the world come together to prepare and celebrate in peace and harmony under the Olympic values," Lindberg said in a statement.

Cho said the village would provide "the best environment for athletes so they can be in optimal condition for their competition".

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

But games preparations have been hit by financial problems and construction delays.

Concerns have eased this year following a series of sponsorship agreements between the cash-strapped organising committee and major South Korean companies such as Samsung.