South Korea’s Gangwon province will likely be named to host the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) when International Olympic Committee (IOC) members meet next month in Lausanne while the 2020 edition of the event gets underway.
Venues in the Town of PyeongChang and City of Gangneung that were used during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games are part of a plan that was launched by Korean sport officials in September to stage the YOG, IOC President Thomas Bach said from his headquarters Thursday.
“[The IOC Future Winter Host Commission] received a compelling candidature from Korean hosts.
“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 said a “targeted dialog” with the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee had begun as “the first steps towards an election.”
He also discussed the possibility that some competitions could be staged in North Korea as part of the quadrennial event that hosts athletes from 14 to 18 years of age in Olympic winter sport disciplines.
“The Games concept would be open to take North Korea on board in the organisation if the circumstances allow.
“So it’s too early to have consultation on this issue,” Bach said at a press conference following a quarterly Executive Board meeting that included the first report from the new Future Host Commission.
In June, the IOC changed the way it intends to elect future Games hosts, removing restrictions around the timing and process of selecting Olympic sites. The new model puts most of the decision-making control into the hands of the Executive Board – removing it from the 100-or-so IOC members who, in this case, will only be expected to approve the selection through a rubber-stamping.
Earlier this year after a year-long process, Dakar in Senegal was approved by members to host the 2022 Summer YOG after the Executive Board chose the city from among four candidates.
The Future Host Commission chaired by Octavian Morariu is expected to deliver a comprehensive report on Winter YOG prospects to the IOC Executive Board early in January.
South Korea could be confirmed to host the 2024 Games as early as January 10 at an all-members meeting if “all the requirements are fulfilled to the satisfaction of the Commission and the Executive Board,” Bach revealed.
No mention was made of Brașov, the Romanian city that lost the 2020 Games to Lausanne and had expressed a strong interest in hosting the 2024 edition – or Sofia in Bulgaria that has also discussed a potential bid. Indications are that these cities are no longer in the running.
Korean officials last year entered into a dialog with the IOC to co-host the Summer Games in Capitals Seoul and Pyongyang, and a letter of interest has been filed. But as tensions on the Peninsula have escalated in recent months, discussions around a possible bid have been minimal.
If events are held in both sides of Gangwon – the only Korean province that straddles the border between the two nations – it will represent a continuation of sports cooperation that began when the two Koreas marched into the Olympic Stadium together at the PyeongChang 2018 Games.
Should South Korea be awarded the Games and before the North is considered to host events, the IOC will need to seriously consider how human rights abuses will be reconciled. The Olympic Charter is coded to advocate for human rights protections in any Olympic host nation.
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.