Winners and losers from the Pyeongchang Olympics

Mark Zeigler, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Olympics

When I checked in at the media village before the Sochi Olympics four years ago, I was told it would be a minute. They were making the bed.

As in, constructing it. With hammers and nails.

A few days later, the elevators stopped working. You could take the stairs, but first you had to open a door with no knob.

The elevators worked two years ago at the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, sort of. My room was on the eighth floor. You pressed 7 to get to it. Sometimes the elevator's bottom aligned with the floor when the doors opened, sometimes it was off by five or six inches.

At the Pyeongchang Olympics: You could press a button in your room to summon the elevator, then receive notification when it arrived.

You didn't hear about problems here with lost bus drivers or blown water heaters or inedible food (the most palatable item at the Rio cafeteria was Velveeta pizza) because there weren't any. I've covered 16 of these things, and this may be the best in terms of logistics and hospitality.

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Too bad more people didn't get to experience it.

If there was a downside to these Olympics, other than the Norovirus that swept through the staffers, it is the troubling trend of dwindling attendance. Other than families of athletes, tourists were scared off by political tensions in Sochi and Zika (and a whole bunch of other stuff) in Rio -- and locals couldn't afford tickets.

It was a different problem here. Events were pushed to mornings or late nights to accommodate NBC and European television, and the Pyeongchang area is not heavily populated. And for Seoul's 10 million residents, it meant a 2 1/2-hour train followed by a bus to reach venues -- so you left at 6 a.m. or got home at 3 a.m.

Result: Empty seats everywhere except short track speed skating, which was one of the few events held at a normal hour (7 p.m.) and which is a South Korean obsession. There was no soul from Seoul.


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