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Olympics: Pyeongchang denies $520 million funding demand

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Seoul (AFP)

The South Korean organisers of the 2018 Winter Olympics said Thursday they were adjusting the event budget, but denied a report that they had already requested an additional $520 million in government funding.

The initial budget for the event in the South Korean ski resort of Pyeongchang was around 2.2 trillion won ($1.9 billion) but the cost is believed to have increased substantially, especially where infrastructure projects are concerned.

Pyeongchang Organising Committee (POC) spokeswoman You Jihyun said a revised budget was being prepared to reflect cost changes from the original budget which she noted was based on the host site's 2011 bid.

"Of course things have changed since then, including estimates of the infrastructure costs," You said, adding that a new fiscal plan would be finalised by mid-July at the earliest.

"Any changes will then be discussed with the government and the International Olympic Committee," she said.

On Wednesday, South Korea's largest circulation newspaper, the Chosun Ilbo, reported that the POC was seeking a further 600 billion won ($520 million) from the government.

"That is not true," You said. "No figure like that has been finalised and no such request has been made."

The POC is now led by former trade minister Lee Hee-Beom, who was appointed in May following the sudden departure of his predecessor, tycoon Cho Yang-Ho.

Cho, who stepped down to focus on his ailing shipping business, had been widely credited with rescuing a preparatory process that was mired in construction delays and funding shortfalls.

The IOC picked Pyeongchang as the Games host in 2011, favouring it over Munich in Germany and the French Alpine town of Annecy.

The first test events held in February were largely successful, although IOC Co-ordination Commission chair Gunilla Lindberg said much remained to be done ahead of the next round in December.

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