The athletes' villages for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games were officially opened on Thursday.
The 35-year-old Ryu Seung-min, a former table tennis Olympic gold medalist, oversaw the official opening as the mayor of the PyeongChang Village. Kim Ki-hoon, a former short track speed skater who has three Olympic gold medals to his name, opened the Gangneung Village and is the honorary mayor.
The host has prepared two athletes' villages for the 2018 Winter Games, with the PyeongChang Village serving more than 3,500 athletes and officials in snow sports in the host town of PyeongChang and nearby Jeongseon. The Gangneung Village, 18km east of the PyeongChang Village, will accommodate more than 2,400 athletes and officials in ice events.
"I am confident that the village will be a place where athletes and officials can relax and connect with their counterparts from other delegations, creating memories and friendships that will last a lifetime," said Lee Hee-beom, chief of the PyeongChang organizing committee.
"The two villages are both located just a short distance from the competition venues, so that all the athletes will be able to save their energy and time to fully focus on the competitions," Lee said.
According to Lee, the villages will also stage a number of cultural events during the Games to entertain the athletes during their stay.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach described the PyeongChang Village as "the very place where the heart of this Olympic Winter Games will beat".
"I think we can say it is one of the best, if not the best, Olympic village we have ever seen for Olympic Winter Games. This village will allow the athletes to not only prepare for competitions, but also to enjoy the spirit of the Olympic Games and to show what the Olympic Games are about, "Bach said.
The first athletes arrived at the villages last Thursday. The official team welcoming ceremonies will take place from February 5 to 8 at the Welcome Ceremony Stage.
The villages both consist of three sections - a plaza area, a residence area and an operating area. A wide range of services and facilities can be found in each village including hair salons, post offices, banks, convenience stores and fitness centers.