As Olympics near, South Korea agonizes over post-Games costs

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — South Korean officials have ruled out branch a state-of-the-art Olympic skating locus into a hulk seafood freezer. Other than that, not most is certain about a country’s post-Winter Games skeleton for a horde of dear venues.

As officials ready for a games in and around a tiny towering city of Pyeongchang, there are slow worries over a outrageous financial weight confronting one of a nation’s lowest regions. Local officials wish that a Games will yield a badly indispensable mercantile boost by imprinting a area as a world-class traveller destination.

But past knowledge shows that hosts who fit their Olympics with expectations of financial windfalls were mostly left deeply unhappy when a pushing ended.

This isn’t mislaid on Gangwon province, that governs Pyeongchang and circuitously Gangneung, a strand city that will horde Olympic skating and hockey events. Officials there are perplexing tough to convince a inhabitant supervision to compensate to contend new stadiums that will have small use once a athletes leave. Seoul, however, is so distant balking during a idea.

The Olympics, that start Feb. 9, will cost South Korea about 14 trillion won ($12.9 billion), most some-more than a 8 to 9 trillion won ($7 to 8 billion) a nation projected as a altogether cost when Pyeongchang won a bid in 2011.

Worries over costs have expel a shade over a games among residents prolonged undone with what they contend were decades of slight in a segment that doesn’t have most going on other than domestic tourism and fisheries.

“What good will a easily managed tellurian eventuality unequivocally do for residents when we are struggling so most to make ends meet?” pronounced Lee Do-sung, a Gangneung grill owner. “What will a games even leave? Maybe customarily debt.”



The atmosphere was starkly opposite 3 decades ago when grand preparations for a 1988 Seoul Summer Games radically made a collateral into a complicated capital it is today.

A vast sports formidable and outrageous open parks emerged alongside a city’s Han River. Next came new highways, bridges and transport lines. Forests of high-rise buildings rose above a bulldozed hull of aged blurb districts and slums.

The bequest of a country’s second Olympics will be reduction clear. In a nation that cares most reduction now about a approval that vast sporting events bring, it will potentially be remembered some-more for things distant than built.

Pyeongchang’s lifelike Olympic Stadium — a pentagonal 35,000-seat locus that sits in a county of 40,000 people — will customarily be used for a opening and shutting ceremonies of a Olympics and Paralympics before workers rip it down.

A scenic downhill march in circuitously Jeongseon will also be demolished after a games to revive a area to a healthy state. Fierce critique by environmentalists over a venue being built on a primitive timberland dedicated to locals caused construction delays that scarcely forced pre-Olympic exam events to be postponed.

Gangwon officials wish a inhabitant supervision to share costs for rebuilding a forest, that could be as most as 102 billion won ($95 million).



Despite some-more than a decade of planning, Gangwon stays uncertain what to do with a Olympic comforts it will keep.

Winter sports comforts are mostly harder to contend than summer ones since of a aloft costs for progressing ice and sleet and a customarily smaller series of people they attract. That’s generally loyal in South Korea, that doesn’t have a clever winter sports culture.

Not all ideas are welcome.

Gangwon officials contend they never severely deliberate a offer to modify a 8,000-seat Gangneung Oval, a Olympic speed skating venue, into a refrigerated room for seafood. Officials were reluctant to have solidified fish as partial of their Olympic legacy.

Gangwon officials also discharged a thesis park developer’s idea to make a lane a gambling venue where people place bets on skating races, citing a country’s despotic laws and mostly disastrous perspective of gambling.

A devise to have a 10,000-capacity Gangneung Hockey Center horde a corporate joining hockey group fell apart.

Even worse off are Pyeongchang’s bobsleigh track, ski burst mountain and a biathlon and cross-country skiing venues, that were built for sports South Koreans are mostly unfeeling in.

After a final investigation revisit in August, a International Olympic Committee warned Pyeongchang’s organizers that they risked formulating white elephants from Olympic venues, yet it didn’t offer specific suggestions for what to do differently.

Cautionary tales come from Athens, that was left with a slew of deserted stadiums after a 2004 Summer Games that some contend contributed to Greece’s financial meltdown and Nagano, a Japanese city that never got a tourism strike it approaching after spending an estimated $10.5 billion for a 1998 Winter Games.

Some Olympic venues have valid to be too dear to maintain. The $100 million luge and bobsled lane built in Turin for a 2006 games was after distant since of high handling costs. Pyeongchang will be customarily a second Olympic horde to idle a rite Olympic Stadium immediately after a games — a 1992 Winter Olympics horde Albertville did so as well.



Gangwon has demanded that a inhabitant supervision in Seoul compensate for progressing during slightest 4 Olympic comforts after a Games — a speed skating arena, hockey center, bobsleigh lane and ski burst hill. This would save a range about 6 billion won ($5.5 million) a year, according to Park Cheol-sin, a Gangwon official.

But a inhabitant supervision says doing so would be astray to other South Korean cities that struggled financially after hosting vast sports events. Incheon, a gladdened 2014 Asian Games host, has a slew of new stadiums now mocked as “money-drinking hippos.” It would also be a tough sell to taxpayers outward of Gangwon, pronounced Lee Jae-soon, an central from a Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Unlike a 1988 Olympics and a 2002 World Cup, that were brought to South Korea after bids driven by a inhabitant government, a provincial supervision led a bid for a Pyeongchang games and it did so but any joining from Seoul over balance a bill.

Under stream plans, Gangwon will be handling during slightest 6 Olympic comforts after a games.

These comforts will emanate a 9.2 billion won ($8.5 million) necessity for a range any year, a large weight for a quickly-aging segment that had a lowest income spin among South Korean provinces in 2013, according to a Korea Industrial Strategy Institute, that was consecrated by Gangwon to investigate costs.

Hong Jin-won, a Gangneung proprietor and romantic who has been monitoring Olympic preparations for years, pronounced a genuine necessity could be even bigger. The institute’s calculation is formed on assumptions that any trickery would beget during slightest assuage levels of income, that Hong says is no certain thing.

He pronounced that could meant gratification spending gets slashed to assistance make adult a miss of money.

South Korea, a rapidly-aging nation with a worsening pursuit marketplace and widening rich-poor gap, has by distant a top aged misery rate among abounding nations, according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development figures.

If Seoul doesn’t compensate for a Olympic facilities, and Gangwon can’t spin them into informative or convenience facilities, it competence make some-more clarity for Gangwon to only rip them down.

Park pronounced a inhabitant supervision contingency step adult since a “Olympics are a inhabitant event, not a Gangwon event.”

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