Pyeongchang ready to take the Olympic baton

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 22, 2014 at 9:15 am •  Published: February 22, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Even before the Sochi Games come to a close, organizers of the next Winter Olympics are promising to do them Gangwon style.

After two failed bids to host the Winter Games, the South Korean city of Pyeongchang won the right to stage the 2018 edition in the mountains of Gangwon province east of Seoul.

Organizing committee president Kim Jin-sun held a news conference Saturday to provide an update on preparations and to answer questions about issues including security, North Korea's participation and whether NHL players would compete in the Olympic hockey tournament.

"Tomorrow the Sochi Games will be closed and the Olympic flag will be handed over to Pyeongchang," Kim said. "That's the moment the Pyeongchang Games essentially begin"

It has become a tradition for the current and next Olympic host cities to complete a symbolic exchange of the baton during the closing ceremony. From his side, handover ceremony executive director Yoon Ho-jin is promising the Pyeongchang segment will "showcase Korea's unique artistry and culture in a global format" in a show featuring "world renowned cast members" on Sunday.

Could that mean PSY performing Gangnam Style in Sochi? They're not saying.

What the Korean organizers were willing to discuss is planning and construction for 2018, with Kim saying they're moving "in the right direction for all functional areas."

Russian organizers were heavily criticized for a budget that reached a reported $51 billion due to costs associated with building almost all the venues and infrastructure from scratch. The 2014 organizing committee also attracted criticism for the late delivery of many official hotels and because the weather — not surprisingly for a Black Sea coastal resort — was a touch warm for the Winter Games.

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