Pyeongchang organizers begin work on Olympic speed skating rink, last of new venues for 2018

Olympic organizers in Pyeongchang have broken ground on the speed skating rink for the 2018 Winter Games and say all six new competition venues are now on track to stage test events on schedule.

Pyeongchang organizing committee president Cho Yang-ho visited the site Wednesday in the Gangneung Coastal Cluster, where construction of the 8,000-seat venue is starting.

"With today's groundbreaking, all our competition venue preparations are in full swing and I am confident that there is good momentum in our progress," Cho said.

The 2018 Games will utilize 13 competition venues, including four existing and three refurbished facilities.

The 131 billion South Korean won ($125 million) speed skating rink, the last of the new venues to get started, is expected to be completed by January 2017, a month ahead of the official Olympic test event and more than a year before the games.

New competition venues for Alpine skiing, figure skating and short track, luge and skeleton and ice hockey are due for completion by late 2016.

Pyeongchang organizers earlier this month scrapped plans to stage the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics outside of the host city.

South Korea's culture ministry said a 40,000-seat venue for the ceremonies would be built in Pyeongchang.