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1ST LEAD Olympic organizers pledge to restore alpine ski mountain By John Bagratuni, dpa

Europe, Europa
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Pyeongchang, South Korea (dpa) - Olympic organizers pledged on Friday to restore part of the mountain used for the alpine skiing speed events as part of of the uncertain legacy concerning Pyeongchang Games venues.

Organizing committee POCOG spokeswoman Nancy Park said that POCOG had vowed to reforest the upper section at Jeongseon and would also work with the government on the lower part.

She said that around 190 million dollars have been spent on the venue and the planned reforestation, insisting: "We are committed to restore the upper portion."

Park said POCOG looked at various sites for the downhill and super-g races after being awarded the Games in 2011 but only the mountain at Jeongseon fulfilled the criteria of the ruling body FIS that the course must have a vertical drop between 800 and 1,100 metres.

A large number of trees had to be cut but Park also insisted the environmental impact was minimised by staging the men‘s and women‘s races on the same course for the Olympics and that the course shape was changed several times to protect various habitats.

The other venues with an unclear legacy are the speed skating rink and ice hockey arena in the coastal cluster at Gangneung.

Park said this aspect is also "high priority for the government" with a task force working on it.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman Mark Adams stressed that "the impact the Games bring is more than two weeks" of the competition itself.

"We want to see a good legacy here," he said, naming the new high speed train from the nation‘s capital Seoul to Gangneung the most important project.

"It helps turn the region into a wintersport destination in Korea and beyond," he said.

Park added that the north-eastern province had been the only one in the country without a high-speed rail link before, and that new highways had also improved the infrastructure.

Park and Adams highlighted that all apartments from the three villages - two for athletes and one for media - have been sold and would be handed to their owners in summer and autumn.

Adams also mentioned the soft legacy such as volunteers and Olympic education at schools, and said meeting the Games operation budget - 2.4 billion dollars in the case of Pyeongchang - also was an important legacy aspect.

Problems with venues after Athens 2004 and Rio 2016 have led to criticism of the Olympic excess, with Brazilian organizers struggling to balance the books as well amid harsh economic realities in the country.

It also remains to be seen what happens with the sliding centre in Pyeongchang, which organizers built despite a recommendation from the IOC to use an existing one in another country.

But Adams said that Vancouver 2010 and London 2012 had "a very good legacy" and also praised the 2024 and 2028 hosts Paris and Los Angeles for setting new standards in this sensitive area.

"Paris and LA have the highest ever level of existing and moveable venues. LA don‘t even have to build an athletes‘ village. Ninety per cent is there. That is something we have taken notice of," Adams said.


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