South Korea’s Gangwon Province will be awarded the 2024 edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Friday when International Olympic Committee (IOC) members are scheduled to rubber-stamp a decision made by the organization’s Executive Board Wednesday.
IOC Members who are gathered in the Olympic Capital of Lausanne, Switzerland where the third edition of the Winter YOG are set to open during a ceremony Thursday evening will watch presentations from the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee and the IOC’s Future Host Commission ahead of the official vote.
The bid was fast-tracked with “targeted dialog” last month after an IOC Future Host Commission led by Octavian Morariu recommended the project to the Executive Board. IOC President Thomas Bach then said that this represented “the first steps towards an election.”
Last June the IOC restructured the Olympic bid process, removing many of the formalities and structure and putting most of the decision-making into the hands of the Executive Board. When Lausanne was named host in 2013 the city campaigned for a year and eventually faced-off against Romania’s Brașov, winning in a 71 to 10 vote.
Brașov had also expressed interest in bidding for the 2024 Games but according to new IOC rules Morariu, a Romanian, would have been forced to step down as Chair of the commission in order for that city to be considered. Sofia in Bulgaria had also previously indicated interest in bidding.
The IOC’s new process is designed to make the Olympic site-selection more strategic than it has been in the past.
The quadrennial event that hosts athletes aged 14 to 18 in snow and ice competitions are planned to be staged in and around PyeongChang and Gangneung where the classic Olympic Winter Games were staged in 2018. Leveraging existing facilities from those previous Games, including venues with questionable legacies such as the speed-skating oval and ice hockey arena, is seen as a strategic move by both the Gangneung government and the IOC to show a broader purpose for building infrastructure to host Olympic events.
Bach said last month “It would be a powerful legacy of the older generation inspiring a new generation with regard to winter sport in South Korea and beyond.”
Bach also hinted that North Korea could be involved in the organization of the Games, perhaps hosting an event. This continues the IOC President’s dialogue on fostering peace on the Korean Peninsula that began when he brokered joint North and South Korean teams at the PyeongChang 2018 Games.
He has also encouraged a joint North and South Korean bid to host the 2032 Summer Games, an idea that flourished early last year but has since fizzled after relations between Pyongyang and Washington soured.
The IOC Session will discuss the project at 12:00 pm local time Friday immediately before the final vote occurs. It will be the first time the Winter Youth edition is held outside Europe with the inaugural event taking place in Innsbruck and the second Games staged in Lillehammer.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.