Bulgaria will pursue a bid to host the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG), officials in the Balkan nation announced Friday.
Buoyed by comments from International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach during a meeting in the Capital of Sofia, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has launched his nation’s bid to host the event.
“What you’re doing is unbelievable,” Reuters reported Bach said after the meeting.
“Currently, three world championships in Olympic sports are held in Bulgaria, which I think is an Olympic record.”
Bulgaria has world championships in rowing, rhythmic gymnastics and volleyball on the calendar.
“It gives me the opportunity to encourage you to go to the next level and bid to host the Winter Olympics,” Bach reportedly added.
Later, a statement released by the Bulgarian sports ministry read “Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has asked the Minister of Youth and Sport Krasen Kralev to prepare Sofia’s bid to host the Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2024.”
Bulgaria has an active recent history of trying to land Olympic events for Sofia. The city narrowly missed the chance to host the Winter Games in 1992, coming second to Albertville – but finished last of four bid to host in 1994. A campaign for the 2014 Games ended early when the city missed the IOC short list.
A grass-roots effort trying to rally a bid to host the Summer Games in 2024 fell short, and another earlier this year to pursue the 2022 Summer YOG was blocked when the IOC restricted candidates to the African continent.
Sofia had also been interested in hosting the 2016 Youth Olympics, but ultimately failed to enter the race.
The next YOG Winter edition is set for Lausanne in Switzerland in 2020. Next month the Summer edition will be staged in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The Youth Olympics, an event staged for those aged 14-18, was launched in 2010 in Singapore. The first Winter edition was held in Innsbruck in 2012. The event was originally proposed by former IOC President Jacques Rogge and is used as a test-bed for new youthful events, and to help develop young athletes for future Olympics.
The event has struggled to gain traction with worldwide audiences, and its ongoing viability on an already crowded sports calendar has been questioned.
The IOC has yet to officially launch the 2024 bid campaign but is expected to do so shortly after Senegal is awarded the 2022 Summer edition during a meeting next month. The nation is the only city named to a short list after a special shortened process was opened only to African countries earlier this year.