IOC President Bach 'very, very impressed' with athletes' village for Winter Youth Olympics

South Korea
Photo: Yonhap

After touring the athletes' village for the upcoming Winter Youth Olympics in South Korea on Wednesday, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach came away pleased with the setup, Yonhap reports. 

"What I can say from this visit here in the village (is) that I'm very, very impressed by the quality of the accommodation and what I'm hearing from the athletes. They're all very happy," Bach told pool reporters after his visit to the village in Gangneung, some 160 kilometers east of Seoul in Gangwon Province. The 2024 Gangwon Winter Youth Olympics will begin Friday.

"For athletes, the most important is good sleep and good food and they all confirmed that their rooms are excellent and beds are excellent, and they're enjoying food very much," Bach added. "So all is set then for a successful Winter Youth Olympic Games here in Gangwon."

Bach and Choi Jong-ku, head of the competition's organizing committee, toured the village set up at Gangneung-Wonju National University. Bach chatted to teenage athletes from several different countries, took pictures with them and gave them souvenirs. He also went into one of the rooms inside the village to check on the beds and showers.

A 1976 Olympic gold medalist in fencing, Bach said his message to young athletes in Gangwon is "to enjoy this experience."

"For young athletes, it's a unique experience and a great stepping stone for the Olympic Games one day," Bach said. "What I can tell them is to enjoy this experience and get ready for a great competition. Give it your best and then continue after to do the next step, and that's participation in the Olympic Games. These Winter Youth Olympic Games have shown already in the past that they are a great stepping stone to success in the Olympic Games."

The youth competition will be held across venues used during the 2018 Winter Olympics in the same region. Bach said bringing the Youth Olympics to a former Olympic host city just six years later provides "a great example for an Olympic legacy in different respects."

"For the athletes, I think it's a wonderful experience to compete on the venues their idols had been competing just six years ago," he said. "Of course, there is also the hard legacy that you see the venues being used. And with these Winter Youth Olympic Games, we are building a new legacy. These young athletes are carrying this legacy on towards the next generation of athletes. So it's a true success story."

Choi said he, too, was happy to see young athletes enjoy themselves staying in Gangneung.

"We will work hard to make sure we maintain the high quality of the village until the end of the competition," Choi added.

Gangwon is the first Asian host of the Winter Youth Olympics, with the three previous editions having all taken place in Europe.

This will be the largest Winter Youth Games with 1,803 athletes representing 79 nations.

The opening ceremony is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday. It will take place simultaneously at Gangneung Oval, the speed skating venue in Gangneung, and Pyeongchang Dome in Pyeongchang, about 30 kilometers west of Gangneung.

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