Organizers have spared no expense as the Republic of Korea prepares to welcome the world, but tensions on the Korean Peninsula are threatening to overshadow the games. Pyongyang’s weapons program have some nations drawing up contingency plans for attending.
As CGTN’s Jack Barton reports, its having an impact on ticket sales.
At the site of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, most but of the venues are ready for competition, though a few still need some final touches applied.
South Korean Olympic officials said thorough planning will ensure 90 percent of athletes will travel ten minutes or less to their event. And for visitors, the Games are designed to be green and hassle free, with venues spread from the mountains to the nearby sea.
But empty seats could be a problem; less than 32 percent of tickets have been sold.
Organizers said the figure for the Paralympics is 1.4 percent.
“We are confident that we will have stronger ticket sales leading up to the games,” according to Kim Jae-Youl, executive vice president of the games’ organizing committee.
He said that the 100 day torch relay will ignite enthusiasm for the games, especially amongst Koreans, and increase ticket sales.
Foreigners, however, have been worried about the tensions with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. How should they feel about coming to the Games, particularly with the French team warning they may not attend if security cannot be guaranteed?
“Regarding North Korean concerns, sports has this unique power of transcending over political differences and we’ve seen that in the past with different events,” Kim said. “Having said that, the POKOC and the South Korean government is taking every measure to make sure we can deliver a safe and secure games.”
There are new roads even a multibillion-dollar high-speed rail link through the mountains to the host city.
It’s not just Olympic officials hoping ticket sales rise.
Many businesses recently opened, hoping cash-in from an Olympic rush.
“Our restaurant is located right in the middle of the Olympic site. And I thought that this is perfect,” Jean Shim, CEO of Wow Korean BBQ Restaurant said.
The recent tensions with the DPRK, he explained, are nothing to worry about.
“It is true we want everyone to know that actually it’s all words; its nothing really happened the last 70 years. It’s just a war of words and it will pass as everything passes,” Jean said.
Though overall sales are low, some events like figure skating and ice hockey are beginning to sell out. The hope is that trend will continue.