Pyeongchang, invested heavily in the ’18 Winter Games, hoping to position itself as a world-class destination; as Seoul had during the ’88 Summer Olympics. Unlike Seoul though, which had experienced a sharp rise in population (following Korean war) and thus benefited from the investment in infrastructure, Pyeongchang is a small (population wise), poor city (2nd to last in average income), located in a particularly cold isolated part of the country. Gangwon (the province that governs Pyeongchang) is now saddled with debt, high maintenance costs (creating an $8.5 million deficit/year) and a series of newly constructed buildings that lack use. Sangho Yoon, a senior researcher at the South Korean Economic Research Institute is projecting “10-20 years of trouble” for the region, saying they’ll “never be able to justify the spending.”
Howie Long-Short: Gangwon is pushing for the federal government to subsidize the maintenance costs, because it’s unlikely local visitors will ever be able to offset the costs. Joo Yu-min, a professor at the National University of Singapore, wrote “there is a high possibility that the 2018 games will lead to long term financial strain, if not bankruptcy, on the local government”. South Korea spent an estimated $12.9 billion on this Winter’s Games, at least 60% over the projected $8 billion (max), so they’re not throwing money at the problem; but, there is at least some hope in Gangwon that they’ll contribute by the time the Paralympics end (March 18, 2018).
Fan Marino: A cyber-attack on the Games’ Opening Ceremonies has been attributed to Russian hackers. The attack took down internet and Wi-Fi access within the stadium, but did not otherwise disrupt the event. The U.S. intelligence community has stated that the hackers tried to make it appear as if North Korea was behind the attack. It’s been surmised that the Russians planned the attack as retribution for the IOC banning the Russian team (and flag) from appearing. Russian athletes performed under the title “Olympic Athletes from Russia” and the Olympic rings.
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