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Athletes' Villages for Pyeongchang Olympics Open

By Yoon Hyung-jun, Kim Seung-jae | February 02, 2018 10:47

The athletes' villages for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang officially opened on Thursday with ceremonies welcoming Olympic squads from 92 countries.

There are two athletes' villages -- one in Pyeongchang for snow sports and the other in nearby Gangneung for ice sports -- to facilitate access to the venues for Olympic events.

In his welcoming remarks, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said, "We can already say that this is one of the best, if not the best, Olympic villages we have ever seen for the Olympic Winter Games."

"This village will allow the athletes not only to prepare for competition, but it will also allow the athletes to enjoy the spirit of the Olympic Games… They are about getting to know each other, they are about making friends, they are about understanding each other, they are about competing with each other, but at the same time sharing your meal and celebrating together," he added.

Athletes from Hungary try VR devices at the athletes' village in Gangneung, Gangwon Province on Thursday. /Yonhap

Nearly 500 athletes from 22 countries checked in on the first day -- some 223 snow sports athletes in Pyeongchang and 269 ice sports players in Gangneung. South Korean skiers competing in alpine ski, cross county and ski jump were among the Olympians at the Pyeongchang village.

North Korean athletes and staff, who arrived in the South on a chartered plane in the evening, checked in at the Gangneung village together. Ten athletes -- two short trackers, a pair of figure skaters, three cross-country skiers and three alpine skiers -- joined 15 ice hockey players who were already there training with the South Korean women’s team.

"We're now the focus of massive media attention as North Korea has joined the Olympics," said Kim Ki-hoon, who heads the villages. "So we're making every effort to ensure the safety of everyone here." 

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