31 January 2024 – Seven out of 12 competition venues of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 are currently being used for the Youth Olympic Games Gangwon 2024. But the legacy of PyeongChang 2018 is much more than that. Thanks to the projects of the PyeongChang Legacy Foundation (PLF), students and young athletes from several countries have been introduced to winter sports, with 39 of them qualifying for the YOG and two of them winning medals at Gangwon 2024.
“The legacy of PyeongChang 2018 continues today. The Winter Youth Olympic Games Gangwon 2024 are the perfect example of how you are carrying this legacy to the future,” said the IOC President, Thomas Bach, during the 6th anniversary ceremony for PyeongChang 2018.
He went on: “By spreading this Olympic spirit that was shining so brightly in PyeongChang to a new generation of athletes, you are continuing to open new horizons for thousands of young people around the world. (…) Thanks to you, many of these young athletes have gone far and beyond a first introduction to snow and ice sports in the world-class legacy venues of PyeongChang and Gangwon province.”
Thank you for giving this new generation of athletes the perfect stage to shine. (…) Let me reiterate that you can always, always count on the IOC as a partner by your side to promote our shared Olympic peace mission.
Thomas Bach, IOC President
The celebration was held in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Museum at which the IOC President cut a birthday cake with the Vice Governor of Gangwon, the Mayor of PyeongChang, and three Korean medallists from Gangwon 2024: Jae-hwan So (gold medal in men’s monobob), Shin-ee Yun (silver medal in mixed team dual mogul) and Yeonsu Shin (bronze medal in men’s skeleton). Also in attendance at the event were the Olympic ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani (USA), who won bronze at PyeongChang 2018.
The museum is housed in the venue that hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies in 2018. Opened in 2021, it welcomed 35,000 visitors in the first year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Since then, it has grown even more and now hosts more than 50,000 visitors a year.
“This is the place where hopes and dreams of PyeongChang 2018 started,” said IOC Member Seung-min Ryu, who chairs the PyeongChang Legacy Foundation. “We all remember the passion and commitment of the athletes, volunteers, members of the Organising Committee and the Olympic family. In this Olympic spirit and values, the PyeongChang Legacy Foundation was established to continue to build on the legacy of PyeongChang 2018.”
“Gangwon 2024 is a great stage to show our efforts and spread the message of the importance of the Olympic legacy. It has been a festival that captured the hearts of athletes and fans.”
Thirty-nine of the participants of the PLF projects qualified for the YOG, with two medals won at Gangwon 2024 by two athletes from developing winter sports nations: Agnese Campeol (Thailand), who won a silver medal in the women’s monobob, and Jonathan Lourimi (Tunisa), who clinched a silver medal in the men’s monobob.
“When Agnes and Jonathan won their medals, I felt like I was a parent,” revealed Arram Kim, Head of Education and Youth Engagement at the PyeongChang Legacy Foundation in an interview with Olympics.com. “I felt like my son and daughter won a medal. I think that’s how happy I was. It’s basically a joint medal. There’s 50 per cent of Korea in each of the two medals.”
Thai athlete Campeol, who won Thailand’s first medal in a Winter Olympic event, explained: “I didn’t know what bobsleigh was about at all, but I wanted to try.”
“[There’s] no winter in Thailand, so the PyeongChang Legacy Foundation is really, really helpful for us,” she adds. “Sometimes we train in Bangkok – we do sprint training, weightlifting – but we don’t have a sliding track, so we come to [the Republic of] Korea to train. Now, I want to keep going. I want to go to Milano Cortina 2026.”
Campeol, just like the two athletes she shared the podium with – Danish gold medallist Maja Voigt and Romanian bronze medallist Mihaela Anton – had also benefited from Olympic Solidarity’s Youth Athlete Development Programme, which funded a series of development camps hosted by the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation.
Tunisia had never even been represented at an Olympic Winter Games before, but sent three bobsledders to Gangwon 2024 after each attended the New Horizons Academy. Just 24 hours after Campeol’s history-making run, the North African country’s Jonathan Lourimi won a stunning silver medal in the men’s monobob.
“It’s an amazing feeling, I never thought this would happen when I started with bobsleigh,” he said afterwards.
“This programme funded everything, from being at the competitions to travel, hotels and everything. Without [the New Horizons Academy], it wouldn’t be possible to be standing here today, and certainly not with this medal, so I’m very thankful to them.
“Not only has this programme helped me develop as an athlete, but also as a person. I’ve been able to make a lot of new friends from all over the world.”
New Horizons athletes shining at Gangwon 2024
“After PyeongChang 2018, we needed to open our venues to the youth,” explained Arram.
“Also, we couldn’t just keep our venues for Korean athletes. They had to be open to all athletes from all over the world. And that’s the concept that drives the legacy of PyeongChang 2018: our facilities are open to anybody and everybody.”
Campeol and Lourimi were among the participants of the New Horizon Academy. Established in 2021 by the PLF, it invites athletes from developing winter sports countries to attend training camps under the guidance of expert coaches, some of whom competed for the Republic of Korea at PyeongChang 2018, while participating in cultural and educational initiatives.
“We invited in Korea 100 athletes from Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. They came for two weeks and tried several winter sports,” said Arram. “We gathered a whole bunch of data and analysed them with Korean coaches, designating each athlete to a specific winter sport based on their performance.”
In total, 25 athletes from nine National Olympic Committees and five sports competed at Gangwon 2024 after attending the camps.
The Dream Programme
“The Dream Programme has been one of the most successful programmes that the PyeongChang 2018 Games started, as the whole concept was to create new winter sporting nations,” said Arram.
First launched in 2004 and then took over by the PLF after PyeongChang 2018, the Dream Programme is designed for young people aged 13 to 23 from countries lacking in winter sport opportunities or infrastructure. They are invited to South Korea and can experience winter sports and Korean culture.
So far, the annual programme has hosted over 2,500 young people from 97 countries. Over 150 participants have gone on to compete in international competitions, and 14 of these athletes are competing at Gangwon 2024.
Introducing Korean students to winter sports
Arram proposed creating camps for children from across Korea and encouraged them to try the various sports in a safe manner, while contributing at the same time to the local tourism and economy.
“Since 2020, we’ve had over 35,000 students aged 10 to 18 try sports in the Olympic venues, learn about Olympic and Paralympic values and do cultural experiences. They visit the venues over a three-day camp, trying two different sports a day and having the chance to meet retired Korean athletes. The programme’s objective is not to create elite athletes, but to give them a taste of winter sport”.
These camps also demonstrate the positive role of sports for young students and in society at large: “I’m a strong believer that playing sport can make you a more positive and a better human being,” concludes Arram.