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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Winds again wreaked havoc on the Winter Games on Wednesday, with postponed and delayed events joined by warnings from officials that spectators should seek shelter in case the gusts caused damage to the area’s many temporary structures.
Attendees inside Olympic Park, the host to all ice events and outdoor performances at the Winter Games, were asked to move inside as winds shook the tents constructed to hold shops, concession stands and even media work rooms.
Officials also closed the Super Store within Olympic Park, a popular location for spectators looking to purchase official Pyeongchang Games clothes and souvenirs.
“Due to high winds in the Gangneung area, all activities in the common domain of the Gangneung Olympic Park have been temporarily been suspended to ensure the safety of all personnel,” the Pyeongchang organizing committee said in a statement. “Spectators are being encouraged to stay indoors and general admission to the park has been suspended for the remainder of the day.”
High winds have been a constant issue throughout the Games, affecting start times and even delaying some events. Women’s slalom was postponed until Friday — after initially being rescheduled four times — because of wind and poor visibility Wednesday.
“It is unfortunate that we weren’t able to race today, but it is important we have a fair race for all of the athletes and today’s conditions would definitely not have been fair,” said the USA’s Mikaela Shiffrin, a gold medal favorite still waiting to maker her Pyeongchang debut. “Weather delays and postponements are just the nature of an outdoor sport.”
Forecasts projecting gusts surpassing 45 mph led to the postponement of events at the Alpensia Biathlon Center. Scheduled for Wednesday, the women’s individual biathlon will be held Thursday.
Winds also affected start times in Nordic combined events.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said officials aren’t concerned at this point that the postponements are going to cause a scheduling crunch: “I guess if the wind blows for the next (11) days it might be a problem. At present, everything is OK. The ski federation is well used to disruption by wind, by too much snow, by too little snow, by too much rain, by all sorts of things.”
Gusty winds blew over the fence around the Gangneung media village and pulled the anchor screws out of the asphalt.
ERICH SCHLEGEL/USA TODAY SPORTS