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Tale of 2 cities: Olympics sponsors in Pyeongchang and Tokyo

em>By Youkyung Lee and Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press /em> SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The Winter Olympics coming to South Korea in February offer an example of the Olympian efforts often required to meet corporate sponsorship goals. Tokyo tells a different story: The coffers are already overflowing for the 2020 Summer Games. It's a tale of two cities and two Olympics — winter and summer. Pyeongchang is a little-known destination in one of South Korea's poorest provinces. It is the 'little town that could,' bidding twice unsuccessfully for the Winter Olympics before winning on its third try. A final push enabled it to reach its sponsorship target of 940 billion won ($830 million) in September, with just five months to go. Tokyo is an established global capital, and the Summer Games usually generate more excitement — and more money. Organizers have raised 300 billion yen ($2.7 billion) in sponsorship, twice any previous Olympics. International Olympic Committee Vice President John Coates describes it as a remarkable achievement. The divergent experiences of two Asian host cities illustrate the challenges that smaller bidders face, as well as South Korea's dependence on the big family-owned companies that dominate its economy. Not that Tokyo is home-free. The cost of the 2020 Games has nearly doubled from initial projections. As with most Olympics, taxpayers will have to foot a good part of the bill. ___ strong>WHERE 'CHAEBOLS' RULE /strong> Starting with the 1988 Seoul Olympics, South Korea has used mega-events such as the soccer World Cup to raise the profile of the country and its manufacturing exporters. Pyeongchang is different. The project was initiated by local politicians in an area long alienated politically and economically in South Korea's rise to prosperity. Some feared people would confuse the city's name with Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. They couldn't count on the automatic support of the huge family-run conglomerates, known as 'chaebol,' such as Samsung, Hyundai and LG. 'When such mega-events were the nation-state's key project, the chaebol were called on and were expected to become the leading participants,' said Joo Yu-min, a professor at the National University of Singapore who co-authored a book on South Korea's use of mega-events. In the end, the national government brought the conglomerates in, first in the bid process, and then for sponsorship. That underscores both the outsized role they play in the economy and their close ties with government. They owe a debt to special treatment from the government, which in turn used them to industrialize the country after the devastating 1950-53 Korean War. After Pyeongchang's bid was rejected a second time, the government called on Samsung and others to help. The president even pardoned Lee Kun-hee, the patriarch of the Samsung founding family who had been an IOC member but voluntarily suspended his membership after being indicted for tax evasion. The IOC reinstated Lee in 2010 with a reprimand and some restrictions, allowing him to lobby heavily for what became Pyeongchang's winning bid in 2011. It took three years for the organizing committee to sign its first domestic sponsor, KT Corp., the country's second-largest mobile carrier. Again, the national government asked the conglomerates for help. All the major ones signed on, after the office of then-President Park Geun-hye made a special request and multichannel pressures for financial assistance, Joo said. Elsewhere, companies may weigh sponsorship decisions based more on the marketing benefits. 'In South Korea, companies make donations out of a sense of duty that they are being part of the national event,' said Park Dong Min, the executive director overseeing membership at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Sponsors who signed up late weren't willing to give as much, because there was less time to enjoy the marketing benefits. A bank that signed on less than a year before the Games significantly reduced its sponsorship. To top it off, a massive sports-related political corruption scandal rocked South Korea in 2016, just when Pyeongchang was making last-ditch efforts to raise sponsorship. 'Companies showed some reluctance' to sponsor the Olympics, said Eom Chanwang, director of the Pyeongchang organizing committee marketing team. 'Nevertheless, they still joined.' The scandal brought down Park, the president. Lee Jae-yong, the heir to the Samsung group, received a five-year sentence for bribery. Lee, who has appealed, had become de facto chief of the Samsung group after his father Lee Kun-hee, the IOC member pardoned in late 2009, fell ill. It was the younger Lee who signed an agreement with IOC President Thomas Bach to extend Samsung Electronics' sponsorship of the Olympics globally through 2020. Samsung declined interviews for this story. With the scandal still fresh in people's minds, major companies have held back from launching full-fledged marketing to promote the Games. 'Samsung traditionally has done consumer marketing through the Olympics, but because its chief is in jail, it cannot do as much these days,' said Kim Do-kyun, a sports professor at Kyung Hee University Graduate School of Physical Education. The Pyeongchang Games were the biggest victim of the scandal, he said. ___ strong>SUMMER OF '64 /strong> The president of Japan's biggest toilet manufacturer was seven years old when the Olympics first came to Japan. TOTO Ltd. made news in 1964 for its prefabricated toilet-and-bath units that helped speed the construction of a luxury hotel, the New Otani, in time for the Games. The company, now known for high-tech toilets that baffle some foreign visitors, is back as a sponsor of Tokyo 2020. 'I feel our company and the Olympics have been bonded by fate,' TOTO president Madoka Kitamura said at a sponsorship signing ceremony at the same hotel last year. The $2.7 billion in sponsorship for Tokyo 2020 is more than three times the original estimate. By comparison, sponsorship revenue was $848 million in Rio de Janeiro last year, and about $1.2 billion for both London 2012 and Beijing 2008. The Winter Olympics typically attract less, though Sochi, Russia, raised $1.2 billion in 2014. Analysts attribute Tokyo's success to both patriotism and a sense of nostalgia for the 1964 Summer Games. They were much more than a sports contest for Japan. They were a moment of pride, marking the country's return as an industrial power after the devastation of World War II and a seven-year U.S. occupation. 'All of Japan still recognizes the unique role that the 1964 Olympics played in Japan's stepping out onto the world stage,' said Michael Payne, a former IOC marketing director who now works as a consultant. 'Many of the CEOs of top Japanese companies would have been young kids back in '64 and are very aware of the role those Games played for the psychological recovery from the Second World War.' They grew up with the high-speed 'Shinkansen' bullet train, inaugurated in 1964; modern expressways and western-style toilets, all symbols of Japan's postwar economic growth. 'Now they have become business leaders, they want to contribute and leave something behind that can be remembered for the next 50 years,' said Masahiko Sakamaki, executive director of marketing for the Tokyo organizing committee. He said that memories of the recovery may have boosted interest in sponsorship, as Japan was still reeling from a deadly 2011 earthquake and tsunami when Tokyo won the bid in 2013. Sakamaki said the organizing committee started receiving sponsorship inquiries as soon as it was established in 2014, before the official start of sponsorship contracts in 2015. There is so much interest that the IOC is allowing Tokyo to have multiple sponsors in some categories, instead of the usual one, including in aviation, newspaper publishing, electronics and banking. TOTO officials won't say how much they are contributing, but media reports say companies in its sponsorship category give between 6 billion and 15 billion yen ($53 million to $133.5 million). Tokyo 2020 wouldn't comment on those reports. 'We believe our presence as part of an all-Japan effort toward a successful Olympics will enhance our favorable brand image,' said Mariko Shibasaki, the company's senior planner for sports communication. Thanks in part to robust sponsorship revenue, the organizing committee has increased its contribution to the cost of the games from 500 billion to 600 billion yen ($5.3 billion). The sponsorship revenue makes up half of the income in the privately-run organizing committee's operating budget. Other revenue comes from the International Olympic Committee, marketing and ticket sales. The overall cost of the Tokyo Olympics is estimated at 1.4 trillion yen (12.4 billion) with the Tokyo government shouldering 600 billion yen ($5.3 billion) and the remaining 200 billion yen (1.8 billion) paid by the national government and local governments hosting events. ___ em>Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo. Associated Press writer Stephen Wade in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this story. /em> .....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnOct 12th, 2017

Passive smoking measures meet resistance – The Japan News

The gap between the government and the ruling parties over secondhand smoke prevention measures has been widening. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry aims to join the international trend toward a total indoor smoking ban by strengthening restrictions in restaurants and other places. However, cautious views on the ban against a backdrop of opposition from the restaurant industry are growing within the Liberal Democratic Party. While the government plans to submit a bill on a smoking ban during the current Diet session, whether the government and the ruling bloc can reach an agreement on the matter remains unclear. Passive smoking refers to the inhaling of smokers’ tobacco smoke by nonsmokers at restaurants, offices or other such places. It is said that the inhaling of such smoke could increase the risk of lung cancer and stroke by 1.3 times, and sudden infant death syndrome by 4.7 times. The Health Promotion Law enforced in 2003 includes moderate allowances toward the prevention of secondhand smoke, but the health ministry believes the current non-compulsory measure has limited effectiveness and is considering an amendment to the law. According to the proposed measures released by the health ministry on March 1, new regulations would include 1) a smoking ban on the premises of medical facilities, elementary and junior high and high schools, 2) an indoor smoking ban for universities, elderly care facilities, gymnasiums, government and municipal offices, buses and taxis, with designated smoking rooms not being allowed, and 3) an indoor smoking ban for assembly halls, restaurants, offices, and train cars, allowing for the establishment of smoking rooms. Smokers who violate the law would face fines of up to ¥300,000, while facility administrators would face fines of up to ¥500,000. The government aims to enforce the law before the period of the Rugby World Cup, to be held in September 2019, after a two-year get-acquainted period. The ministry’s proposed measures are in accordance with the operational guidelines of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. However, the guidelines call for indoor bans in public places and do not allow for the establishment of smoking rooms. Regarding secondhand smoke measures, Japan remains at “the lowest implementation level in the world.” The health ministry aims to “get closer to international standards before the time when the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are held in 2020.” According to the ministry, since 2008 when the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic games were held, host cities, including Pyeongchang, South Korea, which hosts the Winter Games in 2018, have introduced measures against secondhand smoke including fines and most have fully banned indoor smoking. The WHO divides public places into eight categories (medical facilities, non-university schools, universities, administrative buildings, offices, restaurants, bars and public transit), and has released a ranking of countries based on how many categories are subject to indoor smoking bans. According to the ranking, 49 out of 188 countries, including Britain, Russia and Brazil, have bans for all eight categories. Japan falls in the group of 70 countries such as Malaysia with bans for between 0 and 2 categories. Japan remains lowly ranked as it does not have a law to impose an indoor smoking ban, only having promoted separation of smoking areas. Health Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki argues: “Many advanced countries have thorough measures. We should keep in mind how Japan looks from the outside.” If the ministry’s proposed measures become law, an indoor smoking ban will apply to medical facilities, elementary, junior high and high schools, universities and public buildings. It could move Japan up one rank higher. Regarding restriction in restaurants, many countries face difficulties like Japan. For example, Berlin has introduced measures in which smoking-friendly restaurants should be less than 75 square meters, off limits to those under 18 years old, and can serve only food which does not need to be cooked to prevent children and pregnant women from entering. In South Korea, smoking is allowed only at some types of establishments such as bars. Restaurants in most countries appear to worry smoking bans may keep away customers, but the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer emphasizes, “Legal total smoking bans imposed on restaurants and bars do not lead to decreased sales and profit for them.” The health ministry’s proposed measures have polarized opinion among the ruling and opposition parties. While the “Yes” side argues that the ministry’s proposed measures are good enough, the “No” side says that smoking is a matter of manners and should not be regulated by law. “If we don’t do something, we will make a fool of ourselves in front of the world,” said Hidehisa Otsuji, a former health, labor and welfare minister and chairman of a cross-party caucus that aims to implement secondhand smoke prevention measures before the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The caucus met Shiozaki on March 15 and pressed for the strengthening of rules, arguing, “80 percent of people are non-smokers, and we should prioritize the health of the 80 percent.” It is calling for smoking bans in all restaurants, including bars and small drinking establishments known as “snacks.” However, within the LDP, supporters appear to remain in the minority, and it is believed that as much as 90 percent of LDP members are against it while just 10 percent are supporters. About 100 members from the tobacco caucus, chaired by Takeshi Noda, gathered on March 7 and insisted that “tobacco is legal, but [the health [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsApr 6th, 2017

Indonesia announces surprise bid for 2032 Olympics

By STEPHEN WRIGHT,  Associated Press JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia will bid to host the 2032 Olympics following the success of the Asian Games held there over the past two weeks, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said in a surprise announcement Saturday that highlights the rising ambition of the giant but long underperforming Southeast Asian nation. Jokowi, who is campaigning for a second term, made the announcement at a meeting in Bogor with the presidents of the International Olympic Committee and the Asian Olympic Committee. "With the experience we have in organizing the 18th Asian Games, we are sure Indonesia can also host a bigger event," Jokowi said in a statement after the meeting. IOC President Thomas Bach welcomed the candidacy of Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous nation, saying that the Asian Games provided a "strong foundation" for the country's 2032 bid. He said Indonesia has shown that it has all the ingredients to hold the Olympics successfully. "You see that Indonesia is on the move. And you see the enthusiasm of the people," Bach told The Associated Press. "It's a very young country. This of course also makes it very interesting for the IOC." About 12,000 athletes from 45 nations and territories as well as several thousand officials and journalists took part in the Asian Games, which end Saturday. As host, Indonesia provided a spectacular opening ceremony and also exceeded its own expectations in winning 30 golds, placing fourth on the medal table. Indonesia, projected to be among the world's 10 biggest economies by 2030, used the games to shift perceptions that it's in the "too hard" basket, paving the way for a tilt at even bigger sports hosting baubles. The country's hosting of the Asian Games without major organizational hitches has been a boost for Jokowi as he heads to elections in April. With the 2032 bid announcement, he gets to extend the shelf life of the Asian Games afterglow. Bach said the formal selection process for 2032 hasn't begun but Germany and India have also expressed interest. "And we have heard from other continents and other cities," he said. "Given that the decision will most likely be taken in 2025, you can understand that we are already very happy at this stage to have such an interest." Tokyo is hosting the 2020 Olympics. Paris and Los Angeles have already been selected to host the following two games, in 2024 and 2028, respectively. Massive problems with the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, a developing country with endemic corruption, may count against Indonesia's chances. It cost Brazil about $20 billion to host the Olympics, a bill that is likely to raise objections in Indonesia, where poverty remains widespread. ___ AP Sports Writer Stephen Wade contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 1st, 2018

With Tokyo 2020 looming, Japan aims high at Asian Games

TOKYO --- With the Tokyo Olympics less than two years away, Japanese athletes will be using the Asian Games to build confidence as they prepare to host the world on sport's biggest stage. The Japanese Olympic Committee has set an ambitious target of 30 gold medals for the 2020 Olympics, almost double the national record. The most gold medals Japan has won at the Summer Olympics is 16 --- in 1964 at Tokyo and in 2004 at Athens. At the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, Japan claimed the sixth-highest number of gold medals with 12. The Asian Games, being held Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang, are an important stepping stone. While Japan ...Keep on reading: With Tokyo 2020 looming, Japan aims high at Asian Games.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 10th, 2018

US leagues are on the verge of going international

By Paul Newberry, Associated Press An NFL team in London? Count on it. An NBA franchise in Mexico City? Yep, that's coming too. What was once a pipe dream — major-league teams based in cities outside the United States and Canada — is now just a matter of time. The aforementioned cities are the ones most likely to break through first, but others will surely follow when everyone sees how much potential revenue is there for the taking. "The market is saturated in the U.S.," said Gil Fried, a professor and chair of sports management at the University of New Haven. "They need to find new markets." The NFL has been trying for years to make inroads in Europe — especially London — and those efforts were turned up to full blast by revelations that Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan is attempting to buy Wembley Stadium, a 90,000-seat, state-of-the-art venue known the world over. Khan brushed off the obvious speculation that this is the first step toward moving the Jaguars to London — where they already have been playing "home" games since 2013 — but didn't exactly provide a resounding vote of confidence for Jacksonville, one of the smallest markets in the NFL. "The first thing you want with certainty is you want a venue," he said. "And this gives us a stadium solution, for us or anyone else." In other words, better get used to calling his team the London Jaguars. "Shad Khan's purchase of Wembley Stadium portends that a substantive NFL presence in London, and ultimately a franchise, is inevitable," said Vince Benigni, a professor of sports communication at the College of Charleston. The NBA, which last expanded in 2004, is looking to get the jump on Mexico City, a sprawling metropolis of more than 20 million people that opened an NBA-ready arena in 2012. That facility hosted a pair of NBA regular-season games each of the last two seasons , drawing an average of more than 20,000 fans. "You can feel it, you can smell it, you can breathe it in the streets." said Gilberto Hernández, president of the Mexican Basketball Federation. "They're just craving basketball." Of course, there are a number of challenges that must be addressed before international expansion becomes a reality — especially so for Mexico City, which is 7,350 feet above sea level (more than 2,000 feet higher than Denver), is plagued by crime and economic-disparity issues, and might have trouble signing top players who are reluctant to step outside their cultural comfort zone. But the appeal is enormous. "It's the largest city in the Western Hemisphere," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. "It's part of a 130 million-person country. There's a very strong, passionate Mexican-American fan base in the United States. This is also a potential gateway for all of Latin America." The NHL first floated the prospect of a European division in the late 1960s. Detroit Red Wings owner Bruce Norris was so fixated on the idea that he launched his own team, the London Lions, who played a 72-game schedule against top European teams in 1973-74. Unfortunately, the Lions never had a league of their own, so the team quietly disbanded after that single season, leaving behind nothing more than a cool logo . Over the last two decades, the NHL has scheduled regular-season contests in Europe and Japan, including two games in Stockholm this past November. The Asian market also remains a top priority, especially heading into the 2022 Olympics in Beijing — though the league sent mixed signals by refusing to send its players to this year's Winter Games in South Korea. For the NHL and the NBA, the enormous travel times between North America and either Europe or Asia remain the biggest obstacle to adding teams in those markets. Unless some sort of supersonic transportation becomes available, it would simply be too difficult to incorporate such faraway cities as London and Tokyo into an 82-game schedule, which requires teams to play games all through the week and sometimes on back-to-back days. Also working against European expansion: the lack on U.S.-quality arenas (even the most modern facilities generally lack the size and amenities to generate as much revenue as their American counterparts) and established basketball and hockey leagues in many countries would surely object to the NBA or NHL coming in to steal their limelight. For the NFL, the challenges aren't nearly so daunting, and the potential rewards could be even greater for a league that has faced declining TV ratings and lots of bad publicity about the devastating physical toll on its players. There are no major pro football leagues in Europe. Teams play only once a week, generally on Sunday, and the entire regular-season schedule is just 16 games. A team in London would have to make the cross-Atlantic trek no more than eight times a year, and the demands could be lessened by scheduling back-to-back road games, halving the number of long-range roundtrips. A London team could even maintain its base of operations in the U.S., essentially playing all its games on the road but perhaps making it easier to sign players in free agency and cope with legal issues and currency fluctuations. Travel would not be a concern for a Mexican team. The NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball have all played regular-season games south of the border — next weekend, in fact, the Los Angeles Dodgers will meet the San Diego Padres in a three-game series at Monterrey . MLB seems the most logical candidate to launch a Mexican team, given baseball's popularity and the large number of Latin American players in the majors, but the NBA is leading the way. Silver wants to put a G League development team in Mexico City, testing the waters for a possible NBA franchise. "As we look down the road, frankly, to see whether there can be an opportunity to even dream about an NBA franchise here in Mexico City, we believe it makes sense as a first step to have a development league team here to work out some of the issues, to better understand what it would mean to have a team in Mexico," Silver said. There are still plenty of questions to answer, that's for sure. But one is crystal clear. Are U.S. leagues going international? No doubt about it......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 28th, 2018

Preparations for Tokyo 2020 Olympics ‘back on track’ after rocky start

TOKYO — On a nondescript patch of land east of Tokyo, cranes are whirring frantically against a city skyscraper backdrop as 200 workers toil on the 2020 Olympic canoe venue. With the Pyeongchang winter games closed, Tokyo is stepping up preparations for the next event on the Olympic calendar, with busy building sites dotted around […] The post Preparations for Tokyo 2020 Olympics ‘back on track’ after rocky start appeared first on BusinessWorld......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsApr 4th, 2018

Extremely worried Olympics body threatens to expel boxing

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – The International Olympic Committee threatened to axe boxing from the Tokyo 2020 Games on Sunday, February 4, as it opened an investigation into the sport's controversial governing body and said concerns lingered over possible match-fixing at Rio 2016. The IOC's executive board also froze contacts with ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsFeb 5th, 2018

Violinists and cheering squads: North Korea’s Olympic lineup

TOKYO --- North Korea won't be dominating any medal counts when the Winter Olympics come to Pyeongchang in South Korea next month. But it's hoping to grab as much of the spotlight as it can with what might be an Olympic first in ice hockey and a flamboyantly crowd-pleasing all-female cheering section to liven up the stands. Negotiators from the two Koreas, fighting against the clock ahead of the games' Feb. 9 start date, announced some of the key details of North Korea's plans after a day of talks Wednesday in the Demilitarized Zone that divides them. Officials from North and South will take the plan to the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland this weekend for appro...Keep on reading: Violinists and cheering squads: North Korea’s Olympic lineup.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 18th, 2018

As Olympics near, South Korea agonizes over post-Games costs

By Kim Tong-Hyung, Associated Press GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — South Korean officials have ruled out turning a state-of-the-art Olympic skating arena into a giant seafood freezer. Other than that, not much is certain about the country's post-Winter Games plans for a host of expensive venues. As officials prepare for the games in and around the small mountain town of Pyeongchang, there are lingering worries over the huge financial burden facing one of the nation's poorest regions. Local officials hope that the Games will provide a badly needed economic boost by marking the area as a world-class tourist destination. But past experience shows that hosts who justified their Olympics with expectations of financial windfalls were often left deeply disappointed when the fanfare ended. This isn't lost on Gangwon province, which governs Pyeongchang and nearby Gangneung, a seaside city that will host Olympic skating and hockey events. Officials there are trying hard to persuade the national government to pay to maintain new stadiums that will have little use once the athletes leave. Seoul, however, is so far balking at the idea. The Olympics, which begin Feb. 9, will cost South Korea about 14 trillion won ($12.9 billion), much more than the 8 to 9 trillion won ($7 to 8 billion) the country projected as the overall cost when Pyeongchang won the bid in 2011. Worries over costs have cast a shadow over the games among residents long frustrated with what they say were decades of neglect in a region that doesn't have much going on other than domestic tourism and fisheries. "What good will a nicely managed global event really do for residents when we are struggling so much to make ends meet?" said Lee Do-sung, a Gangneung restaurant owner. "What will the games even leave? Maybe only debt." ___ TEARING THINGS DOWN The atmosphere was starkly different three decades ago when grand preparations for the 1988 Seoul Summer Games essentially shaped the capital into the modern metropolis it is today. A massive sports complex and huge public parks emerged alongside the city's Han River. Next came new highways, bridges and subway lines. Forests of high-rise buildings rose above the bulldozed ruins of old commercial districts and slums. The legacy of the country's second Olympics will be less clear. In a country that cares much less now about the recognition that large sporting events bring, it will potentially be remembered more for things dismantled than built. Pyeongchang's picturesque Olympic Stadium — a pentagonal 35,000-seat arena that sits in a county of 40,000 people — will only be used for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics before workers tear it down. A scenic downhill course in nearby Jeongseon will also be demolished after the games to restore the area to its natural state. Fierce criticism by environmentalists over the venue being built on a pristine forest sacred to locals caused construction delays that nearly forced pre-Olympic test events to be postponed. Gangwon officials want the national government to share costs for rebuilding the forest, which could be as much as 102 billion won ($95 million). ___ NO FISH Despite more than a decade of planning, Gangwon remains unsure what to do with the Olympic facilities it will keep. Winter sports facilities are often harder to maintain than summer ones because of the higher costs for maintaining ice and snow and the usually smaller number of people they attract. That's especially true in South Korea, which doesn't have a strong winter sports culture. Not all ideas are welcome. Gangwon officials say they never seriously considered a proposal to convert the 8,000-seat Gangneung Oval, the Olympic speed skating venue, into a refrigerated warehouse for seafood. Officials were unwilling to have frozen fish as part of their Olympic legacy. Gangwon officials also dismissed a theme park developer's suggestion to make the stadium a gambling venue where people place bets on skating races, citing the country's strict laws and largely negative view of gambling. A plan to have the 10,000-capacity Gangneung Hockey Center host a corporate league hockey team fell apart. Even worse off are Pyeongchang's bobsleigh track, ski jump hill and the biathlon and cross-country skiing venues, which were built for sports South Koreans are largely uninterested in. After its final inspection visit in August, the International Olympic Committee warned Pyeongchang's organizers that they risked creating white elephants from Olympic venues, though it didn't offer specific suggestions for what to do differently. Cautionary tales come from Athens, which was left with a slew of abandoned stadiums after the 2004 Summer Games that some say contributed to Greece's financial meltdown and Nagano, the Japanese town that never got the tourism bump it expected after spending an estimated $10.5 billion for the 1998 Winter Games. Some Olympic venues have proved to be too costly to maintain. The $100 million luge and bobsled track built in Turin for the 2006 games was later dismantled because of high operating costs. Pyeongchang will be only the second Olympic host to dismantle its ceremonial Olympic Stadium immediately after the games — the 1992 Winter Olympics host Albertville did so as well. ___ 'MONEY-DRINKING HIPPOS' Gangwon has demanded that the national government in Seoul pay for maintaining at least four Olympic facilities after the Games — the speed skating arena, hockey center, bobsleigh track and ski jump hill. This would save the province about 6 billion won ($5.5 million) a year, according to Park Cheol-sin, a Gangwon official. But the national government says doing so would be unfair to other South Korean cities that struggled financially after hosting large sports events. Incheon, the indebted 2014 Asian Games host, has a slew of unused stadiums now mocked as "money-drinking hippos." It would also be a hard sell to taxpayers outside of Gangwon, said Lee Jae-soon, an official from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Unlike the 1988 Olympics and the 2002 World Cup, which were brought to South Korea after bids driven by the national government, the provincial government led the bid for the Pyeongchang games and it did so without any commitment from Seoul over footing the bill. Under current plans, Gangwon will be managing at least six Olympic facilities after the games. These facilities will create a 9.2 billion won ($8.5 million) deficit for the province every year, a sizable burden for a quickly-aging region that had the lowest income level among South Korean provinces in 2013, according to the Korea Industrial Strategy Institute, which was commissioned by Gangwon to analyze costs. Hong Jin-won, a Gangneung resident and activist who has been monitoring Olympic preparations for years, said the real deficit could be even bigger. The institute's calculation is based on assumptions that each facility would generate at least moderate levels of income, which Hong says is no sure thing. He said that could mean welfare spending gets slashed to help make up the lack of money. South Korea, a rapidly-aging country with a worsening job market and widening rich-poor gap, has by far the highest elderly poverty rate among rich nations, according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development figures. If Seoul doesn't pay for the Olympic facilities, and Gangwon can't turn them into cultural or leisure facilities, it might make more sense for Gangwon to just tear them down. Park said the national government must step up because the "Olympics are a national event, not a Gangwon event.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 15th, 2017

NKorean missile frustrates SKorean Olympic preparations

By Kim Tong-Hyung, Associated Press SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Just when South Korea thought it was finally creating a buzz for February's Winter Olympics, North Korea fired its most powerful missile yet and re-ignited safety worries about the small mountain town that will host the games not far from the rivals' anxious border. The Pyeongchang Olympics probably aren't in jeopardy because of Wednesday's launch for a number of reasons, including that the North is unlikely to attack the more powerful, U.S.-backed South. Despite its belligerent neighbor, South Korea is also one of the safest places in the world with a wealth of experience hosting international sporting events. Still, the launch, which followed a 10-week lull, was a frustrating development for Pyeongchang's organizers, who have only recently got on track after facing construction delays, controversies over cost overruns and wary sponsors. They can also do little to calm international fears created by North Korea's accelerating nuclear weapons and missile tests. Shortly after North Korea fired the Hwasong-15 into the sea Wednesday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in convened a national security meeting where he ordered government officials to closely review whether the launch could hurt South Korea's efforts to successfully host the Olympics, which begin on Feb. 9. South Korea wants more than a million spectators for the Olympics, which will be held just 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the border, and expects 30 percent of them to be foreign visitors. Organizers have struggled for months to spark enthusiasm for the games locally, where the national conversation over the past year have been dominated by a massive a massive corruption scandal that toppled and jailed the last president and North Korea's flurry of weapons tests. Sung Baikyou, an official from Pyeongchang's organizing committee, on Thursday downplayed worries that North Korea would scare away athletes and visitors to Pyeongchang. Organizers and government officials have held briefings and site inspections for Olympics officials, members and sponsors to reassure them of South Korea's security readiness. The 92 nations that have so far registered to participate in the Pyeongchang Games represent the largest ever Winter Olympics field. And after a slow start, organizers had managed to sell more than half of the available tickets by the end of November. Sung said there hasn't been any talk with the International Olympic Committee about moving or canceling the games. "It wouldn't make sense for anyone to cancel tickets to Pyeongchang because of fears about North Korea," Sung said. "There's no war; bombs aren't being dropped on Pyeongchang." Hyun Jae-gyung, an official from Gangwon province, which governs Pyeongchang and nearby Gangneung, a coastal city that will host the skating and hockey events during the Olympics, said cancelations at hotels and other accommodation facilities in the areas have been few and sporadic and unlikely linked to security concerns. But there's nothing organizers can do if North Korea raises fears even higher with more tests. North Korea has conducted 20 ballistic missile launches just this year, and the tests are becoming increasingly aggressive; some in the South fear that Washington might consider a pre-emptive strike on the North as the intercontinental ballistic missile tested Wednesday may be able to reach anywhere in the continental United States. Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University and a security adviser to South Korea's presidential office, thinks it's highly unlikely that the North will do any significant weapons tests or other aggressive acts that would disrupt the Olympics. After Hwasong-15's successful flight test, delighted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared that the country has "realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force." Many experts, including Koh, believe that this suggests the country could soon consider its nuclear program as "enough" and shift the focus to its dismal economy. It would do nothing for heavily-sanctioned Pyongyang to worsen its awful reputation by creating trouble during the Olympics, Koh said. In recent government statements, including the one announced after Wednesday's missile test, North Korea has repeatedly claimed itself as a "responsible" and "peace-loving" nation, something it has been emphasizing since the United States relisted the country as a state terror sponsor, Koh said. "Even if they do conduct a missile or nuclear test during the Olympics, the games will go on as tests don't start wars. But I think there's almost no possibility that they will," said Koh. "If anything, they might have pushed hard to get their tests done before the start of the Olympics." It would help ease worries if North Korea participates in the Pyeongchang Games. While a North Korean figure skating pair qualified for the Olympics in September, it's unclear whether the North will let them compete in the South. North Korea boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics in South Korea's capital Seoul and has ignored the South's proposals for dialogue in recent months. Securing North Korea's commitment to attend the Pyeongchang Games will be a critical topic at the IOC's next executive board meeting in December, which will be the last one before the start of the Olympics. The IOC has already offered to pay the costs should North Korea decide to participate, and Pyeongchang officials have been talking about granting special entries for North Korean athletes in some ice sports. Kim Kyung-hyup, a lawmaker for South Korea's ruling party, said Thursday that Seoul should consider sending a special envoy to the North to persuade it to participate in the Pyeongchang Games. Other than hoping that North Korea accepts the invitation, organizers are stuck. "If there's any other solution, tell me," Sung said. "It's not like we can jump up and catch North Korean missiles with a net.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 1st, 2017

Phelps has 'no desire' to return to swimming

em>By Paul Newberry, Associated Press /em> Michael Phelps wondered if watching others compete at the world championships would pique his desire for another comeback. Nope. Phelps said Tuesday he has 'no desire' to return to competitive swimming, but he is eager to stay involved with the sport and cheer on those who follow in his enormous wake. In an interview with The Associated Press while promoting a healthy pet food campaign, Phelps said he is excited about having his second child and building a life beyond swimming. 'For me, it's about being happy where I am and happy where my family is,' Phelps said. 'We have more goals we want to accomplish outside the sport.' It was around this time four years ago when Phelps got serious about ending his first retirement, but he now seems content with his decision to step away again after the Rio Olympics. His wife, Nicole, is about four months pregnant. The couple already have a 16-month-old son, Boomer. 'I've got no desire — no desire — to come back,' the 32-year-old Phelps said flatly. Phelps has attended a handful of swimming meets since the Rio Games, where the winningest athlete in Olympic history added to his already massive career haul by claiming five gold medals plus a silver . A few months ago, he conceded to the AP that he wasn't sure how he would feel about a possible comeback after watching the worlds in Budapest, Hungary. 'We'll see if I get that itch,' he said in April . Turns out, it had no impact. Phelps said the second-biggest meet after the Olympics 'truly didn't kick anything off or spike any more interest in coming out of retirement again.' He is excited to follow the development of his heir apparent, Caeleb Dressel, who emerged as the sport's newest star by winning seven gold medals at Budapest . The 21-year-old Floridian joined Phelps and Mark Spitz as the only swimmers to accomplish that feat at a major international meet. 'I'm happy Caeleb decided to go off this year instead of last year,' quipped Phelps, who won 23 golds and 28 medals overall in his Olympic career. 'I'm kind of happy to see him swimming so well when I'm not there.' While he still travels extensively for his many sponsors, Phelps said he's much more involved in his wife's second pregnancy than he was before Boomer's birth, when he was consumed by full-scale training for the Olympics. 'It's definitely different going through it again,' he said. Boomer, meanwhile, is a chip off the old block. 'He skipped the walking part and went right to running,' Phelps said, chuckling. 'He just scoots around the house. It's funny when we get him in the pool. He basically just splashes around the whole time. He's literally nonstop. As soon as he wakes up from a nap or his night's sleep, he's just go, go, go. There's no time for slow moving in our family. He likes to go fast. I guess that's a good thing.' Boomer is even starting to show some good form in the pool. His mom and Phelps' longtime coach, Bob Bowman, have detected a bit of the stroke that was his father's strongest. 'Nicole and Bob both say he's got a good butterfly technique that he's working on,' Phelps said. 'I guess he's seen his dad doing it a couple of times and kind of picks it up. He's also now in a stage where it's like all five senses are coming together. He feels everything, recognizes everything. It's really fun to watch, as a dad, just watching these transitions in his life.' In his latest business endeavor, Phelps is spearheading a marketing campaign for Nulo Pet Food , which he describes as a healthy alternative for dogs and cats. He's an investor in the company and accompanied in ads by his French bulldogs, Juno and Legend. 'Our bodies are like a high-performance car. You have to make sure you're putting the correct fuel in your body,' Phelps said. 'We obviously treat our pets like human beings. I'd like my animals to be fed in the right way, with good nutrition and healthy foods. If we can do that with a company that's putting good, natural ingredients into a pet food, it makes sense for me with what I'm doing in my own life. It's something that goes hand in hand.' With Dressel and Katie Ledecky now leading the American team, the U.S. is expected to remain the world's dominant swimming country heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Even without Phelps. 'It's time to kind of move on,' he said, 'and watch other people come into their own.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 20th, 2017

New Japan hotels must be wheelchair accessible before Tokyo 2020

TOKYO, Japan – New hotels in Japan with more than 50 rooms will be required to provide wheelchair-friendly accommodation, the government said Tuesday, October 16, as the country gears up to host the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. Japan is hoping to attract around 40 million tourists annually by the time ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsOct 16th, 2018

What if they had an Olympics, but no one would host?

FILE - This Aug. 25, 2018, file photo, shows a general aerial view of the dismantled stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics with the Olympic cauldron.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsOct 14th, 2018

Jasmine Alkhaldi sets sights on SEAG, Olympics

Two-time Olympic swimmer Jasmine Alkhaldi said yesterday living her dream to compete here in the SEA Games next year is the perfect lead-up to qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and as a holder of eight national records, she hopes to bring more honor to the country despite the politics that has caused the POC suspension of her sport’s NSA......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 10th, 2018

Osaka eyes Tokyo Olympics

Osaka eyes Tokyo Olympics.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsOct 9th, 2018

Lochte seeks treatment for alcoholism

LOS ANGELES, United States – Six-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte is seeking treatment for alcohol addiction, his lawyer told US media. Attorney Jeff Ostrow told celebrity website TMZ on Friday that Lochte was pursuing treatment and remained hopeful of qualifying to swim in a fifth Olympics at Tokyo in 2020. “Ryan knows that conquering […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsOct 7th, 2018

On a musical high after ‘Mamma Mia’

  Here I go again---can't help but break into song after attending the gala night of the musical "Mamma Mia" last Tuesday at the Theatre at Solaire. The singing continued at the show's after-party in Diamond Hotel, where we got to meet the United Kingdom cast.   "Mamma Mia" has a limited Manila run until Oct. 21, before proceeding to new cities on the show's international tour. Judging from the full house and standing ovations on gala night, this is one sensational musical not to be missed.   "Mamma Mia" is Judy Craymer's ingenious vision of staging the story-telling magic of the band ABBA's timeless songs with an enchanting tale of family and friendship...Keep on reading: On a musical high after ‘Mamma Mia’.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 6th, 2018

Surf’s up in 2020 Tokyo Olympics

With surfing to be introduced in the 2020 Olympics, the POC yesterday welcomed the application for membership of the United Philippine Surfing Association (UPSA) whose president Dr. Jose Raul Canlas has assembled a national pool of seven athletes seeking to qualify for the Summer Games in Tokyo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 4th, 2018

Let’s a not go! Nintendo wins Japan court battle over Mario street karting

TOKYO, Japan --- Nintendo said Thursday it has won a court battle against a popular go-kart operator that allows drivers to dress up as Super Mario and other game characters to zip through the streets of Japan. Visitors to Tokyo and other major Japanese cities are often stunned to see convoys of karts driven by people--- usually tourists --- dressed up as Mario, Yoshi, Princess Peach and other popular Nintendo characters buzzing around busy streets. Unlike many countries, Japan has no ban on people driving go-karts on public roads. But the court ruling looks set to bring such Nintendo-themed antics screaching to a halt. The video gaming giant said the ruling blocks the "MariC...Keep on reading: Let’s a not go! Nintendo wins Japan court battle over Mario street karting.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 27th, 2018

Tokyo Olympics begin search for 80,000 unpaid volunteers

TOKYO --- Tokyo Olympic organizers began their search Wednesday for 80,000 unpaid volunteers to staff many of the venues when the Olympics and Paralympics open in just under two years. The closing date for applications will be in December, although Tokyo 2020 organizers say they have not set a specific date. Olympics volunteers are unpaid and typically must provide their own lodging, but they are given uniforms and free meals on the days they work. The volunteer program has been a staple of the Olympics. Many volunteers relish the behind-the-scenes work, and many return to do it several times. But the program also has detractors. At every Olympics, volunteers sign up, get ...Keep on reading: Tokyo Olympics begin search for 80,000 unpaid volunteers.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 26th, 2018

ASIAN GAMES: Philippine medalists given additional financial incentives

Medalists from the recently-concluded Asian Games just got richer after getting additional financial incentives for their hard work and success. The incentives, which were a sum of the funds given by the MVP Group, San Miguel Corporation and the PBA, were given to the athletes in a special ceremony before the Ginebra-San Miguel tussle at the Big Dome Sunday evening. Bronze medalists were awarded PHP 300,000 while silver medalists got PHP 500,000 and gold medalists were bestowed a prize of PHP 2,000,000 each.  The latter prize was is in addition of the previous incentives awarded by the Philippine government and the private sector of PHP 7,000,000 for the gold medalists. Some medalists were on-hand in the awarding ceremony, including Pauline Lopez (bronze, taekwondo); Agatha Wong (bronze, taijijian, taijiquan); Rogen Ladon (silver, boxing), Hidilyn Diaz (gold, weightlifting), Yuka Saso (gold, golf).  The winning National Sports Associations were also given a cash prize in a ceremony earlier this day. Finishing the quadriennial meet with a 4 gold- 2 silver-15 bronze medal count, the Philippines finished 19 out of 46 participating nations, coming up short of a top-15 finish that the national sports governing bodies had set for themselves, but a noticeable improvement from the 1-3-11 medal haul in the Incheon Games in 2014.  Philippine Olympics Committee (POC) President Ricky Vargas was nonetheless proud of the national athletes, whose countless hours of hard work and dedication had brought pride to the country. "That was difficult. We got 4 golds, which was something that we were very happy with. Also we just hit 19. Yung goal natin maging 15 eh darating rin tayo doon. Or even better," Vargas said after the ceremonies.  The ABAP President also added that additional private sponsors had pledged their support for the athletes in the upcoming South East Asian Games to be held in Clark and Manila late 2019. "They are coming in, and I am very happy that they are coming in. And they have confirmed their support just today. I spoke to some of them who were there in the Owner's Lounge there. So importante yun. Importante rin ang POC, di ba?" "So nag-meeting rin kami with [PSC Chairman William 'Butch] Ramirez and complete support for the South East Asian Games. They're coming to our place. To our home. We will perform well in our home."   __   Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 23rd, 2018