President Lee, of the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee, began his presentation to the IOC Session by stating that his city was ready to host the Games. This confidence comes on the back of 26 competition and non-competition test events that PyeongChang hosted last winter. Some 5,500 athletes from over 90 countries participated in the events, with lots of positive feedback from athletes and coaches. With the venues and infrastructure developments for PyeongChang completed or nearly completed, Coordination Commission Chair Lindberg agreed that the fundamentals are in place, with the focus now being on finalising legacy plans for a few of the venues and ensuring strong engagement with the citizens of the Republic of Korea.
The PyeongChang delegation presented some of their plans to grow excitement, with tickets now on sale again in Korea. These included the arrival of the Olympic flame in the host nation on 1 November, an educational programme aiming to reach 1 million children this year, a Cultural Olympiad bringing Korean culture to the world, close collaboration with the National Government, and a party atmosphere in the Olympic Plaza and Olympic Park in PyeongChang and Gangneung respectively. An exciting time can be expected by all visitors coming to the Games this winter.
As well as having 18 traditionally Japanese, urban and youthful events added to the Tokyo 2020 programme at the Session in Rio de Janeiro last year, thanks to the opportunity opened up by Olympic Agenda 2020, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will see the highest percentage of women ever with 48.8 per cent of all athletes expected to be women. The Tokyo organisers are also collaborating very closely with the International Federations and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in order to deliver a first-class athlete experience, with sports managers to be in place one year early and numerous NOC visits already completed.
Tokyo 2020’s venues are also in good shape. Tokyo has nine new sites, of which Musashino Forest is completed; five venues are under construction; and three others are in the executive design phase. All venues are on time. Engagement is going well, with 43 domestic marketing partners already signed, a national flag tour underway, a national participation programme and a project involving traditional Japanese summer festivals. Finally, Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium and Ibaraki Kashima Stadium were approved this year for baseball/softball and football respectively. Both are located in areas where the Great East Japan Earthquake hit in 2011. The recovery from this disaster is a major theme of the Tokyo 2020 Games, and organisers believe that hosting the competitions in these areas is a great opportunity to show their appreciation for the support they have received from around the world, as well as to demonstrate the power of sport.The Beijing 2022 delegation presented their vision to the IOC Session of a “joyful rendezvous upon pure ice and snow uniting the passion of hundreds of millions for winter sports”. This vision will be reflected in all of Beijing’s activities, including its venue plan, which includes an “Ice Ribbon” design for the National Speedskating Oval and Big Air in an urban setting at the Shougang Industrial Park redevelopment, which is itself a sustainable legacy of the Olympic Games Beijing 2008. While seven venues are legacies from the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, the rest of the venues are now confirmed and on time. Infrastructure projects that will be used for the Games are also well on their way to completion.
Coordination Commission Chair Alexander Zhukov praised this strong start by the Beijing team, which also includes an impressive marketing and communications programme that has seen Beijing 2022 already sign its first three domestic partners, 4,506 applications submitted in the emblem design competition, numerous programmes delivered to encourage young Chinese into winter sports, and planning getting underway in earnest for Beijing’s handover segment at the PyeongChang 2018 Games.Additionally, Beijing has created an Athletes’ Commission, led by Olympic champion Yang Yang, which will ensure that the athletes’ experience is at the heart of the Games. They have also looked outside China to bring in international expertise where needed, and recently recruited 27 staff following a global recruitment programme that received nearly 4,000 applications from over 20 countries. Some 81 of Beijing 2022’s staff have already benefited from the observer programme organised around the PyeongChang 2018 test events, and they will get a further opportunity to participate and observe operations during the Games themselves early next year.