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Pyeongchang focused on test events, says IOC

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has praised the quality of construction work at venues for the 2018 Olympics and said Pyeongchang organisers are now focused on delivering next year`s test events for Asia`s first Winter Games outside Japan.

Gunilla Lindberg, chair of the IOC`s Coordination Commission, said in a statement on Friday they had been briefed on the full range of preparations during a fifth project review.

The technical visits to the South Korean host city serve as interim updates between full Coordination Commission visits.

Lindberg said the organising committee (POCOG), led by Chairman Cho Yang-ho, was transitioning from a planning body to one that must deliver the Games.

"We could see that the organising committee, under Chairman Cho`s leadership, is fully focused on its first test events, as it transitions from being a planning organisation to one that must deliver operationally," she added.

"We also visited the Bokwang and Jeongseon venues, where next year`s test events will be held, as well as the Alpensia Sliding Centre.

"The quality of the construction work at all three sports venues underlined Korea`s well-deserved reputation in this field."

The coastal city of Gangneung will be used for the figure skating, curling, ice hockey, speed and short-track skating events, while the alpine town of Pyeongchang will stage mountain events such as skiing, sliding and Nordic events.

Concerns about costs and construction delays had raised speculation earlier this year that some of the events might have to be moved away from Pyeongchang, perhaps even to Japan.

But preparations are now in full flow, with construction on venues coming along and major South Korean companies such as Samsung, Korean Air and LG agreeing to pour in funds to support the Games.

South Korea`s two biggest automakers, Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp, also signed on as sponsors this week, providing vehicles and pumping in cash to help with the running of the multi-sports event.

POCOG Chairman Cho described the two-day meetings as "very productive" and said they had made good progress since the last Commission visit in March.

"Now we are making utmost efforts, and working closely with the international federations, to successfully deliver the first test events, which are only six months away...," he added.

The next IOC Coordination Commission visit is scheduled for September.