2018 Winter Olympics: No prayer room for visitors

2018 Winter Olympics: No prayer room for visitors

Gangneung, South Korea (Web Desk): The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has cancelled plans for a mobile prayer room in Gangneung for tourists at the 2018 Winter Olympics after strong opposition by anti-Muslim campaigners, the city tourism department's chief told Al Jazeera.

While just 0.2 percent of South Korea's population of 51 million is Muslim, the KTO decided to build a prayer room to promote a "Muslim-friendly Korea" during the Winter Olympics, which start on Friday and increase the number of Muslim tourists.

But after "strong opposition" from some groups, city officials in Gangneung cancelled the plans.

"We had strong opposition from some religious groups who opposed the installation and threatened protests during the Winter Olympics," Gangneung city government tourism division chief Kang Suk-ho told Al Jazeera.

"We sat down with them for talks, but in the end, we had to cancel the plans," he added.

Kang also said he did not expect "such an extreme backlash from the group".

"We thought it'd be nice to offer a prayer room facility at the Gangneung station," he explained, adding that he thought the opposition to the plan was "very regrettable".

Gangneung is set to host all indoor events.

 The story was originally published by ‘Al Jazeera’