| SOCHI, Russia
SOCHI, Russia Feb 9 Almost three years since being awarded the 2018 winter Olympics, South Korea's Pyeongchang is hoping to finally seal its first domestic sponsorship deals in the first quarter of this year, Games chief Kim Jin-sun said on Sunday.
The South Korean mountain resort is not expecting to match the estimated $1 billion in domestic sponsorship revenues for the Sochi 2014 winter Games but Kim said he hoped to land a telecommunications and an apparel sponsor in the coming months.
"Local sponsorship sales are very important for a successful delivery of Pyeongchang 2018 and that is why we are making an all-out effort to make that happen," he said.
"Last year we selected two preferred bidders in the category of telecommunications and apparel and we are now in the final stages of negotiations with these preferred bidders," said Kim.
He did no give any details on which companies had been chosen as preferred bidders but Games vice president Moon dong-hoo said the deals would most likely be completed in the first quarter of the year.
Organisers have also started negotiations for sponsors in the categories of automobiles, banking, energy, construction and airlines.
Sponsor revenues along with ticket sales and a share of broadcasting rights go towards covering the $2 billion Games organisation budget.
Pyeongchang had initially estimated domestic deals to reach $600 million sponsorship but organisers said it could be a bit higher than that.
"We will be able to speed up sponsorship," said Kim, the former governor of Gangwon province. "We will engage our sponsorship sales in full swing. That is why I do not foresee any big problem."
These will be the first winter Olympics in Asia outside Japan but Kim said talks for a united Korean team or a joint march into the stadium, as many hope, had not taken place.
North and South Korea are technically still at war since a 1953 truce.
"There have been no official discussions on our Games since we were awarded them (in 2011)," he said.
He said he personally would have liked to see some sort of joint programme for the two sides at the Games.
"But this is only under the condition that the inter-Korean relations improve. But I think this is a task worth trying." (Editing by Ed Osmond)