The International Olympic Committee is to begin talks with the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee to develop a plan to host the 2024 Winter Youth Olympics in South Korea, with some events potentially hosted in North Korea.
After a three-day IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, president Thomas Bach said the South Korean proposal was “very compelling”, and the IOC would initiate a “targeted dialogue” with the Korean committee.
The talks come after the IOC Future Winter Host Commission, established as part of reforms to the bidding process for Olympic events, identified Gangwon province in South Korea as the preferred host for the Games.
Brasov in Romania and Sofia in Bulgaria had also expressed interest in hosting the games, and Russia, Spain and China were thought to be considering bids.
Korea’s bid involves events in the cities of PyeongChang and Gangneung. North Korea’s Masikryong resort is potentially a venue for ski events.
Bach said: “The proposal is very compelling from the perspective of legacy and sustainability as it would be an opportunity to hold the Winter Youth Olympic Games 2024 in a number of venues where Olympians competed a few years earlier at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
“It would be a powerful inspiration for a new generation of winter sports athletes and fans in Korea and beyond. And the Games concept would be open to take North Korea on board in the organisation if the circumstances allow.”
Pyeongchang could be formally elected as host for the 2024 Games at the next IOC Session, on January 10 next year, “if all requirements are met”, the IOC said.
The recommendation of Gangwon province for the 2024 Youth Games by the Future Host Commission was based on the following rationale, the IOC said:
- A positive technical feasibility assessment
- Solid support from all levels of government
- The opportunity to bring the Winter YOG to Asia for the first time after three editions hosted in Europe
- The opportunity to build on the legacy of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 with use of existing venues
- The opportunity to further leverage sport to continue dialogue for peace on the Korean peninsula.
Hosting the Games would be a significant boost to the Gangwon region, local government officials said. Gangwon governor Choi Moon-soon told Yonhap: “If we bring the 2024 Winter Youth Olympics to Gangwon, it will help revitalize the local economy.
“And it will also ensure balanced growth across Gangwon Province and help raise the profile of the country as much as the PyeongChang Winter Olympics did.”