What was your job here?
I am working as a cameraman for the Olympic Channel.
Which Olympics have you worked at before this one?
I have worked Athens 2004 (NBC), Beijing 2008 (NBC), Vancouver 2010 (AP), London 2012 (OBS), Sochi 2014 (OBS), Brazil 2016 (SNTV), and now PyeongChang 2018 (Olympic Channel).
How would you rate PyeongChang's organization and planning compared to other host cities?
I thought organization and planning was very good. Better than Sochi, Vancouver, and Beijing in my opinion. Access with regard to security and volunteers, and transport are my two biggest concerns. Security was excellent. Thorough but not oppressive, efficient, friendly (mostly), and quick.
Transport overall was good; however it was occasionally lacking. Intra-venue shuttles did not operate often enough during peak times. This was the case specifically at the sliding venue and the alpine skiing venue. Drop off and pick up points were sometimes farther than they needed to be, in my opinion, from the work areas in the venues. Media, especially photographers and cameramen often need to carry large amounts of equipment. The shorter the distance to travel on foot the better.
Having said that, buses ran on time, which is terrific. However, volunteers did not know enough about bus routes and schedules, and while they were friendly and eager to help, they simply didn’t know where buses needed to caught and where they went. Part of this was the language barrier, which often can’t be helped.
Overall, on a scale of 1-10 this “American judge” gives organization and planning a 7.9!
What stood out to you that PyeongChang did well?
Pyeongchang did a lot well. I thought security was good. Media villages and the IBC (International Broadcasting Center) and MPC (Main Press Center) also ran smoothly. Volunteers were generally helpful and friendly. The actual venues were quite adequate.
Where did PyeongChang miss the mark?
Signage in and around venues and the park was poor. When so many people from so many places from different languages and cultures gather, you cannot have enough signs pointing to arenas, media entrances, tribunes, mixed zones, etc. You need signage everywhere to tell people where things are. I did not think there were enough signs inside or outside the venues.
Food in Korea is excellent. It is one of the world’s finest cuisines. This was not reflected in the concession stands at venues, the Olympic Park, or the IBC and MPC. Also, certain items were inexplicably expensive. 4000 won for hot chocolate. Chocolate powder and hot water in a small cup when it’s -15 outside is ridiculous. 4000 won for chocolate powder and hot water. Many of us working the games are on tight budgets and many of us pay for our own meals and don’t have time to eat at many of the excellent restaurants in PyeongChang. The IBC catering tent had very little variety. In comparison, the OBS venue catering was unbelievably good as always.
I thought the Olympic Park in Gangneung was a bit corporate, boring, and lacked atmosphere. When the biggest lines are outside the Superstore (for Olympic merchandise), McDonalds, Coca Cola, and Samsung, there’s a problem. I thought there could have had more public art, better landscaping, and natural features and attractions in the park. They call it a park for a reason. London was the model for an Olympic Park. Also, there was a giant stadium in the middle of the park that went completely unused. I thought that was a massive waste.
Finally there were two mascots for these games but I only ever saw one. The striped tiger. Where was the bear thing? The folks inhabiting the costumes cannot just be volunteers. You need to hire a few professional mascots as well. Every major venue needs a professional mascot performing. The rest can be volunteers.
As someone covering the Olympics, what aspects of event management stand the most important to you?
The volunteers and paid staff need to know their venue inside and out. They need to know about sports as well. They need to be able to answer adequately the press and public alike. They need to apply their judgement with discretion. Rules are rules but flexibility at the right time is also important. I think for the most part PyeongChang did well in this aspect.
Also, venues need to safe and easily negotiated. For the most part, this was the case. Ski jumping, biathlon, and cross-country as well as Phoenix Park could have been safer and better built, and more clear in terms of access routes for media. I’m shocked no one was seriously hurt.
After interviewing and interacting with so many people here, do you have a feeling how most of the athletes, media, and international visitors felt about the PyeongChang Games?
I believe overall we see this as a good games. I think folks in the mountains were a bit isolated from the fun, but everything seemed to go smoothly with good humor. Two thumbs up.