Seoul, South Korea – Recent news reports have revealed that PyeongChang’s Alpensia Resort, the iconic jewel of South Korea’s bid for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, is in financial ruins and its inclusion in the Olympic Games is at risk. That’s a disappointing analysis for South Korea’s largest resort complex located in the Gangwon Province town of PyeongChang that was quite literally built from dreams.
But PyeongChang 2018 President Jin-Sun Kim assures that this isn’t the case.
In 2003, the PyeongChang Olympic bid committee dreamed of building the top winter sports destination in Asia – and leveraged this vision as a platform for its campaign. In 2007, the committee walked international reporters through empty potato fields where ground had just broken for a new, world-class resort. And in 2011, the bid committee hosted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission in the new Alpensia report, a complete winter sports destination built based on a promise to the same group eight years earlier.
From vacated farmland rose hotels, shops, Nordic and alpine ski facilities and even a rarely found ski jump tower and stadium – a complete and compact Olympic cluster for a Games that wasn’t even awarded yet. The Games were finally given to PyeongChang on the third try but the events won’t begin until 2018 and the resort will have to sustain itself until then.
On Tuesday, the Special Olympic World Winter Games opened in PyeongChang utilizing the competition venues and accommodations, breathing some life into the resort, if only for eight days.
In November, the Korea Times reported that the resort was on the brink of bankruptcy with losses of $55 million annually and under these circumstances it may not be able to host the Olympics.
But Kim, the former Governor of Gangwon Province said “there is no possibility of being bankrupt.”
He told GamesBids.com “I can assure you that because this is a venue for our Olympic games we will keep this Alpensia resort in any case whatsoever.”
Kim blames the situation on cash flow difficulties resulting from the global economic downturn. The resort was financed with loans and municipal bonds that are now creating a burden of interest payments that the current revenue stream can’t sustain. It was hoped that sales of private units on the property would service the debt and keep the complex solvent, but these sales have not materialized as expected.
But Kim believes time will correct this as the world economy improves – and there are already signs of this happening.
“There has been a lot of attention and there are a lot of people who are interested in this Alpensia resort.”
“We have many investors who have expressed their interest; we expect that this financial difficulty will be settled down very soon.”
That’s good news for PyeongChang that will allow its Olympic dream to play out as envisioned.