The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said its 2017 budget for preparations for the Games is down 49.4 per cent from last year’s, due mainly to a decrease in construction costs of facilities close to being finished.

It is expected 12 venues, an athletes’ village and a media centre will all be completed this year.

The ministry said KRW ₩731.1 billion ($622 million/£509 million/€585 million) has been earmarked for construction this year, a 55.1 per cent decrease from 2016.

However, the Government has tripled its budget on operational preparations and event settings.

South Korea will now spend KRW ₩166.6 billion ($141 million/£115 million/€132 million) this year on works related to organising test events, improving telecommunication systems and other Olympic-related preparations.

According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, the government will also spend KRW ₩30 billion ($25.5 million/£20.8 million/€24 million) in an effort to improve the country’s performance at the Games.

Their goal is to finish fourth and 10th at the Olympic and Paralympic Games respectively.

At Sochi 2014, South Korea finished 13th at the Olympic Games, winning eight medals including three golds while they failed to win anything at the Paralympics.

Earlier this week, the Pyeongchang 2018 Organising Committee denied that their latest budget is being delayed by South Korea’s political problems and “expect” it to be approved this month.

The committee’s President Lee Hee-beom said after an International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission visit at the beginning of October that the fourth Games budget for 2017 should be completed either later that month or in November.

But since then, South Korea has been rocked by a political cronyism scandal leading to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

The scandal centres around Park’s links to Choi Soon-sil, her 60-year-old adviser who allegedly exerted “undue influence” on policy-making despite having no official Government role.

Most elements of South Korean politics ground to a halt after the accusations emerged in November and it is believed this caused the budget delay.

But Pyeongchang 2018 officials deny this has been the case, pointing-out that the 2016 budget was not finalised until March last year.

The 2016 budget increased by KRW ₩600 billion (£386 million/$518 million/€468 million) from the original projection of KRW ₩2.2 trillion (£1.4 billion/$1.9 billion/€1.7 billion).

South Korean officials claimed this was due to changes from the initial plans including new events being added to the programme and the transfer of two venues, the Olympic Plaza and the International Broadcasting Centre, from the infrastructural to the operating budget.

According to Yonhap, the Government and Pyeongchang are also planning events to celebrate one-year until the Games.

Some 60 promotional and cultural events marking the games are scheduled to be held in Seoul, Pyeongchang, Gangneung and Jeongseon around February 9, exactly a year before the Opening Ceremony.

The Pyeongchang Organising Committee is also preparing for a large one-year countdown event where the official Olympic torch and uniform will be revealed.

On February 8, an unveiling ceremony for a countdown clock for the games will also be held at the Seoul City Hall plaza.

The Government is also planning to increase promotion of the two official mascots Soohorang, a white tiger, and Bandabi, an Asiatic black bear.

Source: insidethegames.biz/yonhap news