IOC urges SKorean organizers to be ready for crucial test events ahead of 2018 Winter Games

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — The International Olympic Committee pressed South Korean organizers on Thursday to make sure venues are completed in time for crucial test events ahead of the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

The IOC's coordination commission wrapped up a three-day visit — and its fifth overall trip — to Pyeongchang to check on preparations for the first Winter Olympics in South Korea.

"The competition sites remain on schedule for the games but the organizers need to maintain their focus, as some delivery dates are very close to the start of the test events," commission chair Gunilla Lindberg said.

Test events in Alpine skiing, freestyle skiing and snowboarding are scheduled to be held early next year.

"It is important that Pyeongchang 2018 delivers these events successfully and, in particular, the test events next February, in order to create a solid basis for its planning and preparations for the games," Lindberg said.

The IOC has expressed concern in the past about the pace of planning and venue construction in Pyeongchang, but Lindberg said Thursday that preparations are now "developing well."

The IOC panel was joined for the meetings by leaders of the seven international sports federations on the Winter Games program.

"It has been a very productive three days," Pyeongchang organizing committee head Cho Yang-ho said. "I feel that we are in the right direction to stage a great Olympic and Paralympic Games."

The IOC has previously been worried about a shortage of domestic sponsors for the games, but noted Thursday that local organizers have reached over 50 percent of their sponsorship target.

"This showed the commission the strong backing of the Korean business community for the games," the IOC said.

Hyundai and Kia Motors signed on as domestic sponsors in July.

The IOC commission's next visit to Pyeongchang will be in March 2016.

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