Dust the snow off the venues around PyeongChang, because an Olympic-level event is headed back to South Korea’s Gangwon Province.
The International Olympic Committee declared Gangwon as host for the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games on Friday, marking the first time the multisport competition will be held outside Europe. The Games will also be the third Olympic-level event to be held in the Asian country, following the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul and the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang.
The decision, announced soon after the third Winter Youth Olympic Games began Thursday in Lausanne, Switzerland, was widely expected following the recommendation of the IOC’s Executive Board. It was the first decision made under the IOC’s new streamlined approach for selecting host cities, an effort intended to limit costs and increase flexibility.
Among the appeals of the South Korea bid was that the 2024 Youth Olympic Games are expected to reuse several venues around the cities of PyeongChang (mountain sports) and Gangneung (ice sports) that were also used in the 2018 Winter Games. Gangneung-Wonju University would serve as the Youth Olympic Village.
In a statement, IOC President Thomas Bach said the 2024 bid “will ensure the Youth Olympic Games remain sustainable and affordable.”
Featuring athletes ages 15 to 18, and with an emphasis on spreading Olympic and cultural values in addition to competing for medals, the Youth Olympic Games debuted in 2010 with the Summer Games in Singapore. Lausanne marks the third edition of the Winter Games, following events in 2012 in Innsbruck, Austria, and 2016 in Lillehammer, Norway. The fourth edition of the Summer Games will be 2022 in Dakar, Senegal, marking the first time an Olympic-level event is held in Africa.
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The Lausanne Games mimic the full Winter Games in several ways, with an Opening Ceremony on Thursday, athletes living in a Youth Olympic Village and competitions across eight sports. The Youth Games diverge in some key ways too, however, most notably in the individual events.
Athletes in Lausanne will compete in the Olympic debut of mountaineering, for example, while non-Olympic disciplines including a mixed-nation 3x3 ice hockey tournament are also included. In addition, the 2020 Youth Olympic Games will feature the same number of men and women, thanks in part to the inclusion of women’s Nordic combined and doubles luge — neither of which are on the full Olympic program.
This month’s Winter Youth Olympic Games are the biggest yet, with 1,872 total athletes representing 79 nations. Team USA is sending 96 athletes, trailing only host Switzerland (112) and Russia (107).
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movements for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.