SEOUL, South Korea — The head of the organizing committee for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang resigned Monday, saying new leadership and a “stronger system” is needed to complete preparations for the games.
Former provincial governor Kim Jin-sun was elected president of the organizing committee in late 2011 after Pyeongchang won the right to host the first Winter Olympics in South Korea. He was re-elected last year for another two-year term.
“PyeongChang 2018 is at a turning point for the latter half of its games preparation, which requires more detailed planning and execution,” Kim said Monday, according to a committee statement.
“At this critical juncture, I believe that PyeongChang 2018 needs new leadership and a stronger system that will effectively carry out various games-related projects,” he said.
The organizing committee did not comment on the process for replacing Kim or his likely successor.
Kim, former governor of the eastern Gangwon province which includes Pyeongchang, led the South Korean town’s two unsuccessful bids for the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. In 2010, he stepped down as governor and had since served as an ambassador to Pyeonchang’s bid committee for the 2018 games.
Kim’s tenure was to officially end in October 2015 and it is not known what exactly caused his early departure.
International Olympic Committee officials who visited Pyeongchang recently expressed no major concerns about preparations for 2018.
Gunilla Lindberg, who led the IOC coordination commission on a three-day inspection visit, said a large amount of work had been achieved since the panel’s previous visit in June last year.
“The 2018 games are on the right track, but it is clear that much work remains,” Lindberg said. “With only four years to go until the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games begin, it was important for the commission to be able to survey the progress being made on the different venues. We are pleased to see that work on key sites like the sliding center and coastal Olympic Village has begun.”
IOC President Thomas Bach visited Pyeongchang earlier this month and downplayed concerns about tight construction schedules.
“It is not new that when it comes to the organization of games that, in one or the other project, there are some delays in comparison to the previous plans, so there’s no reason right now to become nervous,” Bach said.
He said the IOC remains confident that Pyeongchang can organize “excellent” games.
The IOC thanked Kim on Monday for “his hard work and excellent commitment” to the organizing committee, known as POCOG.
“We held our last project review meeting with POCOG at the end of June and developed with them a clear roadmap of activities until the end of the year,” the IOC said in a statement. “We have full confidence that these activities will be delivered by the POCOG team in a timely manner and using their existing processes. We continue to work closely with them on their preparations for the games.”