South Korea marks 3-year countdown to Pyeongchang Olympics

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea marked the three-year countdown to the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics on Monday with a series of events in the host city of Pyeongchang.

Organizers said more than 500 people took part in activities to mark the buildup to the games, which will be held from Feb. 9-25, 2018.

"We are now at a critical point where the success of the games will be determined," Kim Jong, an official with South Korea's sport s ministry, said. "Everyone involved in the games should consider themselves as a national representative and give their best."

The South Korean government recently rejected a proposal by the International Olympic Committee to halt construction on a new bobsled, luge and skeleton venue and relocate the events to an existing sliding center in another country. The IOC said the move would have saved $120 million in construction costs and $3.5 million in yearly maintenance fees.

The government also ruled out sharing events with rival North Korea.

On Monday, organizers, government and sports officials and residents took part in a 3-kilometer relay from the ski jumping center in Alpensia to the Olympic stadium site in what was described as a "mini opening ceremony."

Also, former Olympic speed skating champion Lee Kyou-hyuk was appointed a "games ambassador" by the organizing committee. Former figure gold medalist Yuna Kim also took part in the events.

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