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IOC inspection on PyeongChang under way with presentations

   PYEONGCHANG (Yonhap) -- The on-site evaluation by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on PyeongChang, a South Korean alpine town bidding for the 2018 Winter Olympics, began Wednesday with bid officials' presentations over eight different topics.

   The IOC's evaluation team, led by Gunilla Lindberg of Sweden, will be here in PyeongChang, about 180 kilometers east of Seoul in Gangwon Province, until Sunday. The 14-member delegation will also visit winter sports facilities that would serve as Olympic venues, and then hold a closing press conference on Saturday.

   All presentations during the IOC visit this week will be held behind closed doors. The topics Wednesday covered PyeongChang's Olympic vision, its venues and accommodations, transportation and environment.

   Presenters included Kang Kwang-bae, former South Korean Olympic bobsledder, luger and skeleton racer and currently vice president of international affairs at the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, and Kim So-hee, an Olympic gold medal-winning short track speed skater for South Korea.

   Before the presentations began, Lindberg, former vice president of the IOC, and the rest of her team were greeted by Cho Yang-ho, head of the PyeongChang bidding committee; Park Yong-sung, chairman of the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC); and Choung Byoung-gug, South Korea's minister of culture, sports and tourism. Under the IOC regulations, the IOC team is prohibited from speaking with media until the press conference on Saturday.



   This is PyeongChang's third straight bid to host a Winter Olympics, after it was narrowly beaten by Vancouver, Canada, and Sochi, Russia, in its two previous runs. The host city will be decided at the IOC General Assembly in Durban, South Africa, on July 6. South Korea has never hosted the Winter Olympics.

   PyeongChang has tried to build its case on proximity of all venues, claiming it will hold "the most compact" Winter Games and all arenas will be accessible within 30 minutes of each other across two main clusters. The town also boasts experience having hosted dozens of international winter sports events in the area.

   PyeongChang officials have also tried to point out that the Winter Olympics, which were first staged in 1924, have come to Asia only twice, both times to Japan -- in Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998.

   The IOC's evaluation reports will be made public no later than one month before the Durban meeting. While positive evaluation reports don't always guarantee victory for candidates, they are used as a reference for technical aspects of bids.

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