Winter Olympics: Pyeongchang Games staff, fans injured as strong winds send debris flying

Firefighters helping to secure equipment that had been blown over by the wind, in Gangneung Olympic Park, on Feb 14, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

PYEONGCHANG (REUTERS) - A total of 16 Winter Olympics staff and spectators were injured when strong winds ripped through the Games' venues on Wednesday, while also causing considerable damage to the installations, officials said on Thursday (Feb 15).

Several events were postponed or rescheduled, including Nordic combined, biathlon and Alpine skiing, and more than 60 tents were damaged by winds with a speed of seven metres per second as organisers warned of flying debris.

"Sixteen people had slight injuries, 13 were operational staff and three were spectators," Games spokesman Sung baik You told reporters. "They suffered light injuries, were treated and then sent home."

The wind ripped tents, signposts and steel fencing off their base and sent them flying through the Olympic park.

"We have some facility props flying around. We had 60 tents slightly damaged," Sung said, adding 120 pieces of steel fencing were also damaged by the winds.

"Yesterday, we took preliminary measures. From 0600 this morning, the wind speed was between two to five metres per second and so things have returned back to normal."

While calm returned along with glorious sunshine to the Olympic venues on Thursday, the spread of the norovirus that has hit mainly security staff showed no signs of abating.

More than 200 people have now been infected with the virus, also known as the "winter vomiting bug" but no athletes so far, according to organisers.

The virus had broken out in the lead-up to last week's opening ceremony and led to some 1,200 security staff being quarantined. Organisers had to call in military personnel to replace them.

"Now we have additional cases of 33 people. There are additional cases in Gangneung," Sung said.

"We will see this afternoon how many people have now been diagnosed."

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