By Kang Seung-woo
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge is expected to visit Korea at the end of this month.His visit is primarily to check preparations for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games, especially the troubled financial status of one of its main venues.According to the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) and PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG), they are currently in negotiations with the IOC over the 70-year-old Belgian's trip to Korea."Rogge is likely to come to Korea around Jan. 30 but the details have yet to be decided," a KOC official said.POCOG added that because the IOC is on vacation until Jan. 7, Rogge's specific itinerary will be discussed when its officials return to work.Rogge has led the IOC since 2001 and is slated to step down in September.PyeongChang, 180 kilometers east of Seoul in Gangwon Province, won the bid to host the nation's first Winter Games on its third attempt last year, beating European rivals Germany's Munich and France's Annecy. Rosy predictions are that the 2018 Winter Olympics could result in about 29 trillion to 60 trillion won in economic benefits for the country. But the snowballing debt of the Alpensia Resort has become a thorn in the organizers side.The resort is the main venue of the 2018 Games and will host the ski jumping, biathlon, cross country skiing, bobsleigh, luge and skeleton competitions.Last month Gangwon Development Corp., which owns and operates Alpensia, said that the resort has been losing approximately 60 billion won ($56 million) annually over the past few years because of costs including a substantial amount of monthly interest while revenue remains at 50 billion won.The interest comes from a total of 1 trillion won in municipal bonds and bank loans raised since 2004 to finance the construction of the resort that features a golf course, hotels and other leisure facilities. The deadline for Alpensia to pay back outstanding debt installments of 560 billion and 220 billion won is 2013 and 2014 respectively. If it fails to make the repayments, Alpensia may go belly up. According to Gangwon Development, bankruptcy could prevent Alpensia from hosting the 2018 Winter Games.The Alpensia Resort, which was completed in 2009 to support PyeongChang's Olympic bid, is desperately seeking to lure investment from either the central government or private entities.Meanwhile, POCOG seems almost blindingly optimistic. In a statement issued last month, the organizers said that they are positive that Gangwon Province will do all it can to solve the problem, saying a case in point is the emergency task force recently established by Alpensia in conjunction with the Gangwon provincial government and organizations representing various businesses in the region."In any case, the Olympic Games will not be affected adversely by Gangwon Development Corp.'s financial status since all sports venues at Alpensia are owned by Gangwon Province," it said.
자크 로게 IOC 위원장이 이달 말 방한 할 것으로 보인다.
그는 방문 중에 평창의 동계 올림픽 준비 상황도 둘러 볼 예정인 것으로 알려졌다.
대한 체육회와 평창 동계 올림픽 조직 위원회에 따르면 IOC와 로게 위원장의 방한에 대한 세부 일정을 논의 중이라고 밝혔다.
“로게 위원장이 1월 30일 경 방한 할 것으로 보인다. 그러나 세부 일정은 아직 정해진 것이 없다.” 라고 대한체육회 관계자는 말했다.
평창 올림픽 조직위 역시 IOC가 1월 7일까지 휴가 이기 때문에 그 이후에 되서나 로게 위원장의 구체적 일정을 논의 할 것이라고 했다.