To help with spellings and usage in coverage of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, The Associated Press has compiled an editorial style guide of essential terms, spellings and definitions. Some terms are from the Olympics entries in the AP Stylebook. Others are common usage in AP sports stories. The terms include input from Olympic beat writers Graham Dunbar and Eddie Pells, reporter Kim Tong-Hyung and bureau chief Foster Klug in Seoul, Moscow sports writer James Ellingworth, East region TV producer Yvonne Lee in Philadelphia, sports editor Chris Lehourites in London and Oskar Garcia, assistant sports editor for the U.S. east region and AP Stylebook committee member.

Facts and figures

Pyeongchang is a town in the mountains about 80 miles (about 130 km) east of Seoul, South Korea. This is the country’s first Winter Olympics. Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics.
Dates: Feb. 9-25, 2018.
Sports: There are 15 sports under the official program. They are listed here with their identification codes in parentheses: biathlon (BIA), bobsled (BOB), curling (CUR), hockey (HKO for men, HKW for women), luge (LUG), figure skating (FIG), speedskating (SPD), short track speedskating (SPD), Alpine skiing (SKI), cross-country skiing (XXC), Nordic combined (SKI), freestyle skiing (FRE), ski jumping (JUM), skeleton (SKE) and snowboarding (SBD).
Sports venues: The 12 competition venues are divided into two areas: the mountain cluster, where the ski, snowboard and sliding events will take place, and the coastal cluster, which will host hockey, figure skating, speedskating and curling.
Medal events: 102 medal events.
New events: big air snowboarding, team parallel slalom skiing, mixed doubles curling, mass start speedskating.
Athletes: around 2,900, plus 2,000 coaches and team officials.
Countries: Around 90 countries will send athletes to the Olympics, including some from Russia, who will be identified as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” when competing. The country’s Olympic committee is banned because of doping violations and the Russian flag will not fly any sooner than the closing ceremony.
Cost: The budget for building venues and infrastructure is made up of a mix of public and private money. The spending is 11.2 trillion South Korean won. In dollar terms, this amounts to about $10.3 billion, depending on the latest exchange rate. Separately, the local organizing committee has a privately-funded operating budget of 2.8 trillion won ($2.6 billion). This budget is met through sponsorships, ticket sales, merchandising and subsidies from the International Olympic Committee.
Medals: Organizers have produced 777 medals, each weighing between 586 grams (20.6 ounces) for gold to 493 grams (17.3 ounces) for bronze. The medals will hang from ribbons made of a traditional Korean fabric called Gapsa.
Mascots: The Olympic mascot is Soohorang, a white tiger with black stripes. It represents South Korea's guardian animal and its name is a combination of "Sooho," which means protection, and "-rang," from the middle letter of the Korean word for tiger, pronounced "Ho-rang-i." The Paralympic mascot is Bandabi, a black bear symbolic of the Gangwon Province, where the games will be held.
Medals tables: In the United States, national standings are compiled by the total number of medals per team: gold, silver and bronze. In the rest of the world, national standings are based on the number of gold medals per team.


Pyeongchang, Seoul and all other cities in South Korea are followed by the name of the country when used in datelines: PYEONGCHANG, South Korea. Most of the snow and sliding sport venues are in Pyeongchang, the downhill skiing events are in Jeongseon and the skating, hockey and curling sports are in the coastal city of Gangneung.
The dateline city for each venue is as follows:
  • In Pyeongchang: Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium, Alpensia Biathlon Centre, Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre, Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre, Olympic Sliding Centre, Phoenix Snow Park, Yongpyong Alpine Centre.
  • In Jeongseon: Jeongseon Alpine Centre.
  • In Gangneung: Kwandong Hockey Centre, Gangneung Curling Centre, Gangneung Hockey Centre, Gangneung Ice Arena, Gangneung Oval.

Games, games

Capitalized when attached to the host city or year: the Pyeongchang Games and the 2018 Games. When standing alone, spell games lowercase: The games open Feb. 9.

Personal names

In general, follow the individual's preference for an English spelling if it can be determined. Otherwise, use the nearest phonetic equivalent in English if one exists: Alexander Solzhenitsyn, for example, rather than Aleksandr, the spelling that would result from a transliteration of the Russian letters into the English alphabet. See AP Stylebook entries on foreign names, Korean names and Russian names. Note that the IOC uses French phonetic spellings on some names, which will appear in agate and other statistical material. Stick with AP style at all times even when it conflicts with the agate and stats distributed by the IOC. If an athlete expresses a preference for a different spelling or an Anglicized version of their name, use that.

Pyeongchang Games, Pyeongchang Olympics

Capitalized. Also, 2018 Olympics or 2018 Games. The year always precedes the host city and Olympics: 2018 Olympics, 2018 Pyeongchang Games. Do not use PyeongChang 2018 Olympics or Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, marketing terms commonly used by organizers and others that do not conform with longstanding AP style.

Russian athletes

Russia has been officially banned from the Pyeongchang Games by the IOC for running a sophisticated doping program at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The punishment is largely symbolic -- more than 200 Russian athletes are expected to compete in Pyeongchang under the moniker of “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” in neutral uniforms and without their flag or anthem as Russia’s national Olympic committee is suspended. Medals won by Russian athletes will not count toward Russia's historical medal count and should not be noted as wins for the country itself. In stories that prominently mention Russian athletes, remind readers of the ban and technicality.
Try to use terms other than the clunky Olympic Athletes from Russia or the awkward OAR, although it is acceptable on second reference and in statistical material. It is better to use Russian athletes or other forms with the adjective Russian for individuals, teams and the collective group competing under OAR. The Russian skier clinched gold on her final run. Russian skating prodigy Evgenia Medvedeva is considered a clear favorite in women's figure skating if she competes. The Russian hockey team is led by former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk. The Russian biathlon team is competing in the country's most-watched winter sport. Do not use the term OAR on first reference or in headlines.
For medal purposes and in collective references, use Russian athletes or Olympic Athletes from Russia instead of Russia by itself. Do not connect medals directly to previous wins for the country without explaining the distinction. Russian athletes have won 10 golds so far in Pyeongchang.

Names and acronyms

IOC, International Olympic Committee. Either is OK on first reference, but use the full name somewhere in the story.
IOC President Thomas Bach. The title is capitalized when used before the name.
International sports federations. All Olympic sports are run by international federations. Don't use the abbreviation IF; use international federation or governing body.
National Olympic committee. In news stories, avoid the abbreviation NOC and use national Olympic committees or national bodies. There are 206 recognized national Olympic committees, including Kuwait and Russia, which are currently suspended.
USOC, U.S. Olympic Committee. Abbreviation acceptable on second reference.
The Olympic movement. Comprises the IOC, international federations, national Olympic committees, organizing committees and all other recognized federations and bodies, as well as athletes, judges, coaches and other sports officials.
The Olympic Program. The IOC's global sponsorship program. The 13 sponsors are Coca-Cola, Alibaba Group, Atos, Bridgestone, Dow, GE, Intel, Omega, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Toyota and Visa. Do not use the IOC's abbreviation, TOP.

national anthem

Lowercase the term because it is a description, not a title. The United States national anthem, but “The Star-Spangled Banner.”


Avoid the term in most cases related to the Olympics because it can be easily confusing. Olympiad is not a synonym for the Olympics. It is a period of four years beginning on Jan. 1 of the Olympic year of the Summer Games. Olympiads are numbered consecutively in Roman numerals from the 1896 Athens Games. The Games of the XXXI Olympiad, which began Jan. 1, 2016, is essentially no more than a fancy way to refer to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Winter Games do not get that same designation even when falling in the same four-year period.


Any athlete who has competed in the Olympics.


Adjective (without s) and always capitalized: Olympic gold medal, Olympic organizers, Olympic host city, Olympic flame, etc.

Olympic terms

Olympic Village, capitalized, or athletes village, lowercase.
Olympic flame and torch relay.
Olympic opening ceremony (singular) and closing ceremony (singular). Together they are the
Olympic ceremonies (plural) held at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium.


Noun. Always capitalized.

Olympics or Olympic Games

Always capitalized. There are Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics, or Summer Games and Winter Games.


Staged in Pyeongchang from March 9-18, involving about 670 athletes with physical disabilities from about 45 countries. The six sports on the program include: alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, hockey, snowboarding and wheelchair curling. There are 80 medal events. Athletes are grouped in classifications based on different types of impairments. The word Paralympic as an adjective (without s) is always capitalized: Paralympic Games, Paralympic organizers, Paralympic gold medal, and so forth. Paralympics as a noun is also always capitalized, following similar usage rules as Olympics: Pyeongchang Paralympics, 2018 Paralympics. Paralympic athletes are known as Paralympians. The games are governed by the International Paralympic Committee; IPC is acceptable on second reference. When reporting on the Paralympics, see the disabled, handicapped entry in the AP Stylebook, which encourages specific descriptions and gives guidance on some terms and descriptions.

Winter Olympics

Capitalized. While proper style, note that during the Pyeongchang Games it will likely not be necessary in your story to refer to the season. It's widely understood that these games are the winter set.

Some sport-specific terms

Alpine skiing: giant slalom, super-G, downhill
bobsled and skeleton: women's bob; two-man bob; four-man bob. For those in the front seat: driver or pilot. For those not driving: brakeman, push athlete. In skeleton, slider is preferred. The governing body for bobsled and skeleton is the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Foundation, not Bobsled.
cross-country skiing: freestyle sprint, classical-style event; 10-kilometer race, also abbreviated 10km or 10K.
figure skating: Use lowercase on all jumps. Double axel; triple flip-triple toe loop; triple lutz, double salchow.
freestyle skiing: halfpipe, moguls, aerials.
hockey: face off (v.), faceoff (n. and adj.); power play, power-play goal; goalie; penalty box; red line; short-handed; slap shot; hat trick.
luge: luge athlete or slider is preferred to luger.
skicross, snowboardcross
ski jumping: Use normal hill for the K90 (70m) events and large hill for the K120 (90m) events.

Symbols and culture

Olympic rings: five interlocking rings (blue, yellow, black, green and red) symbolizing five areas of the world involved in the Olympic movement (Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania).
Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius (faster, higher, stronger).
Olympic Charter: code of rules and principles governing the International Olympic Committee and Olympic movement.
Olympism: IOC term for the philosophy of sport, culture and education behind the Olympic movement.
Olympic hymn or anthem: music by Greek composer Spyridon Samaras and lyrics by Greek poet Kostis Palamas. Played at opening and closing ceremony.
Olympic oath: a solemn promise to abide by the rules in the spirit of sportsmanship. Recited by one athlete and one judge or referee at the opening ceremony on behalf of all the athletes and all officials. Cultural Olympiad: the program of cultural, musical and artistic events organized in the host city around the games.


The preferred term for the plural form of South Korea's currency, the won. Do not use wons. When mentioning a current amount in won, also convert the currency to U.S. dollars and give in parentheses: 11.2 trillion won ($10.3 billion). Do not convert historical amounts because such conversions are usually inaccurate because of changes in inflation and exchange rates.

Pronunciations of Key Terms

These South Korean terms are presented as commonly pronounced in South Korea, starting with the characters as they appear in Korean followed by existing English transliterations and definitions in parentheses. South Korean organizers deliberately use an uppercase “C” when spelling the host city (PyeongChang) to distinguish the city from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, but this style is inappropriate for English-language text stories.
원 won (South Korea's currency) – “WON”
강원도 Gangwon Province – “GAHNG-wahn-doh”
평창 Pyeongchang – “PYONG-chaang”
강릉 Gangneung – “GAHNG-nuhng”
정선 Jeongseon – “JUHNG-son”
황태 hwangtae (dried pollock fish, often used in soup or served spicy and grilled) – “HWANG-tay”
오삼불고기 osam-bulgogi (squid and pork belly served spicy and grilled) – “OH-sahm-bul-go-gee”
횡계 Hoenggye (an area of Pyeongchang where Olympic Stadium is located) – “HWENG-gay”
경포해수욕장 Gyeongpo Beach (a Gangneung beach) – “GHYONG-po-hay-soo-yok-jahng”
선수촌 (athletes’ village) _ “SON-soo-chon”
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