The start of 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics are less than 10 months away. BusinessKorea met Lee Hee-beom, president & CEO of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, to hear about the preparation and vision of the winter games. Lee told BusinessKorea that the winter Olympics will open “New Horizon” to people across the world to leave a sustainable legacy in the holding region and the nation, saying the committee is making every effort to prepare and provide comfortable, realistic and efficient services to players and tourists. Followings are excerpts from the exclusive interview with the head of the organization committee.
Q:Please explain the meaning of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which is the first one of its kind in 30 years in South Korea.
The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics has the vision of “New Horizon.” This means people from all around the world will open a new chapter of winter sports on the stage of Asia with great potential to leave a sustainable legacy in Gangwon Province and South Korea.
Until now, only Sapporo and Nagano, Japan have hosted winter Olympics out of Europe and North America in 1972 and 1998, respectively. The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will be a starting point for more winter Olympics in Asia.
Gangwon Province has run its Dream Program since 2004, helping young people in countries less familiar with winter experience winter sports and meet with each other via winter sports. In the same way, the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will open a new chapter of winter sports and winter Olympics.
Q:The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics has been dubbed as cultural Olympics. How are you planning to combine the sports events with the Korean Wave?
During the event period, we will offer a variety of cultural programs anyone can watch and enjoy under the slogan of Everyday, Culture and Festival!
Examples of the cultural programs include the hands-on culture & ICT centers in the venue where arts and technology representative of South Korea will be exhibited, traditional culture promotion centers that will adopt South Korea’s traditional construction styles and techniques, programs related to traditional seasonal customs and street performances anyone can take part in.
Artistic and cultural performances and exhibitions representing the region are also scheduled outside the venue. Daily fireworks will add to the festive mood, too.
Q:The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics are expected to be highly successful in terms of ICT in that South Korea is one of global ICT leaders.
The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will become the world’s first 5G Olympics utilizing the IoT and UHD. We are aiming to make use of the technology for the sake of people’s convenience and memory above anything else.
5G test networks are to be established in the venues, the Seoul Incheon International Airport, downtown in Seoul and so on. The networks will provide extremely realistic media services and content based on hologram, virtual reality, etc.
In addition, the Genie Talk app will offer interpretation based on voice recognition, translation based on text input and translation of texts in images during the period. The automatic interpretation and translation between Korean and eight other languages will help the 2018 Pyeongchang become the world’s first Olympics without language barrier.
The IoT will be utilized for personalized services, intelligent transport systems, drone-based transport services and athletic performance improvement by means of big data and the IoT.
The world’s first commercial terrestrial 4K services will be offered during the period along with trial 8K paid services. At the same time, programs will be run for social media promotion, overseas content distribution and trial Screen X services.
Q:How are you preparing the Olympics in terms of environment?
We are planning to hold a low-carbon green Olympics there by realizing O2 Plus Winter Games.
In this context, eco-friendly transport infrastructure such as high-speed railways, transit points and IT-based transport systems will contribute to energy conservation. A high-speed railway is to be completed soon between Wonju and Gangnenug and the use of green cars like electric cars will be promoted.
Power generation facilities using new and renewable energy sources are slated to be built at newly built stadiums. Specifically, four facilities are to be built with a combined capacity of 2,656 kW while a 32-MW wind power complex is added to the region.
The nine stadiums and athlete's village are expected to reduce 17,721 tons of greenhouse gas during the event period with their green building certificates. We are aiming to reduce the total greenhouse gas emissions from 1.59 million tons to zero between the first day of preparation and the closing of the event.
Q:Snow can pose a problem with an abnormally high temperature going on. What is your plan in this regard?
The lack of snow is not a local problem but a natural disaster that has to do with global warming. It has emerged as a major risk factor since the 2010 Vancouver. During the Sochi Olympics three years ago, the Russian government itself prepared and run emergency measures.
In the case of Pyeongchang, it seems there is no need to worry as it has a number of high-performance snow making systems and radiant slopes.
The Yongpyeong Ski Resort, which is scheduled to be used for alpine skiing, has never been short of snow since its opening in 1975. During the test events in 2016 and this year, Pyeongchang has proven that it has the best natural environments and technology for winter Olympics.
Q:What is the organizing committee’s plan regarding the development of tourism courses and accommodations?
The IOC requires 21,000 rooms to be prepared as accommodations for each client. We have already satisfied the criteria and completed the allocation in June last year.
When it comes to accommodations for tourists to visit Pyeongchang, we are planning to make use of those located in not only the venue but also nearby cities and counties such as Gangneung and Jungsun.
Gangwon Province, in the meantime, has improved such accommodations for the convenience of visitors and has offered the Tour Gangwon app, which provides real-time information about tourism, lodging, culture, food, etc.
The high-speed railway currently under construction is scheduled to become available late this year. Then, the venue can be reached within two hours from Seoul and even those staying in the metropolitan area will be able to reach the venue with ease.
Q:What are the positive effects anticipated from the hosting of the Olympics?
Gangwon Province is one of richest regions in culture and nature and one of the most beautiful regions in South Korea. However, the province has been rather inaccessible due to the lack of infrastructure.
During the preparation of the Olympics, this problem has been tackled to a large extent. Through the Olympics in 2018, the region will be prepared to open itself to more from the world.
The province will keep developing unique cultural and tourism content during the course so that people from all across the world can be interested in and visit itself in every season.