One of the key pledges of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 organisers was to create venues that were sustainable and would provide a legacy that would see them contribute to the local region long after the Games had finished, in terms of both establishing it as a winter sports hub and enhancing its overall infrastructure.
One year on, it is clear that vision is taking shape. To drive the legacy programme, the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, together with the authorities of Gangwon Province, have announced plans to launch the PyeongChang Memorial Foundation, which will manage and operate some of the venues going forward, using the surplus of USD 55 million that was generated by the Games.
Winter sports hub
Of the 12 competition venues and one training venue that were used for the Games, legacy plans have been confirmed for nine.
The Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre, Alpensia Biathlon Centre and Alpensia Cross Country Centre are all being managed by the Gangwon Development Corporation (GDC), with a view to maintaining them for sports competitions, training and public use, bolstering plans to establish the host region as a winter sports hub for locals and foreign visitors alike. Also under management of the GDC are the Alpensia Sliding Centre, Gangneung Ice Hockey Centre and Gangneung Oval, although long-term plans for these three venues are yet to be finalised.
In late December 2018, the Gangneung Hockey Centre played host to the national men’s ice hockey championships, and it is also due to stage the upcoming Legacy Cup, which will take place from 6 to 8 February to mark the one-year anniversary of PyeongChang 2018, and will feature teams from Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia and the Republic of Korea.
“If Gangneung Hockey Centre becomes the mecca of hockey in Korea and continues to host domestic and international events, it will also have a positive impact on the local economy in the city of Gangneung and the province of Gangwon,” said Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA) President Chung Mong-won. “It's imperative that we keep Gangneung Hockey Centre as a hockey-only venue if we want to take the next step forward.”
Meanwhile, Kwandong Hockey Centre has been handed over to Catholic Kwandong University, and is being used by students as a multi-sports and educational facility.
The Gangneung Ice Arena has been transferred to Gangneung City, and is currently undergoing renovation work before reopening as a multi-sports facility for public use. The training facility attached to the Ice Arena is set to be used by Youngdong College as an exhibition and seminar facility.
One venue that will not remain in operation is the Jeongseon Alpine Centre. In collaboration with the Korea Forest Service, it is due to be dismantled in line with the original commitment to restore the mountain facility to its original state – reflecting the importance of sustainability and environmental protection for the host region. Discussions are ongoing to finalise the restoration plans.
Contributing to communities near and far
It is not only the competition venues that are set to enjoy a new role post-PyeongChang 2018. The Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism has also announced its plans to use the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) as a national archive and cultural space, under the aegis of the National Library of Korea.
After the Games, the broadcasting division of the International Olympic Committee – Olympic Broadcasting Services – donated IBC building equipment, including solar panels, to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Uganda, which has enabled the provision of new housing and vital electricity supplies for the Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement. The Olympic Broadcasting Services donation contributed to the building of 64 new housing units and storage facilities in the settlement, in addition to solar power systems for two local hospitals.
The Ministry has also announced plans to create a memorial hall on the premises of the main Olympic Stadium, which is due to open in 2020. Meanwhile, all the apartments in the PyeongChang and Gangnueng Olympic Villages, as well as the Media Village, were converted for residential use and sold prior to the Games. Residents have been moving into the apartments since October last year. This mirrors the legacy programme put in place after the Olympic Games Seoul 1988, when apartments in the Villages situated next to Olympic Park became a popular residential complex.
Finally, the Ministry, PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee (POCOG) and Korean Sport and Olympic Committee are currently in discussions to convert the office building used by POCOG into a winter sports training centre.