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Youth Olympics becoming “stepping stone” for youth athletes: IOC president

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Gangneung ( South Korea): The Youth Olympic Games has become an important stepping stone for young athletes to reach the Olympic level, International Olympic Committee
(IOC) president Thomas Bach here said.

Bach on Monday praised the high level of competition and organization at the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympics, believing it might assist young athletes to prepare for future Olympic Games.

“Putting a greater focus on the competition side was one of the goals the Olympic Agenda has been setting, because we could learn from the concertation with the International Federations and with the youth athletes that they are looking for this kind of competition.”

“They [the youth athletes] are making here a great experience for the first time in a multi-sport Olympic event, living in a village together with all the other athletes from the other sports and the other National Olympic Committees. This greatly facilitates their future participation in the Olympic Games,” added Bach.

The IOC chief cited data from the Beijing Winter Olympics to prove this point.

“In Beijing 2022, participants of the previous Winter Youth Olympic Games won 53 medals. This shows the Youth Games are becoming a more and more important stepping stone for great success on the Olympic level.”

Bach emphasized the educational role of the Youth Olympics for young athletes and said the educational programs set up by Gangwon 2024 were attractive.

“This is a confirmation of the interest of the athletes, not only in the competition, not only in the role performance, but also in the Olympic values, in fair play and safeguarding. And many other aspects, even Olympic history are very popular among the athletes,” he said.

The Youth Olympics was widely seen as an incubator for innovation within the Olympic Movement, and according to Bach, the IOC will evaluate the new events and new rules at Gangwon 2024.

Gangwon 2024 canceled mixed National Olympic Committee events and added two new 1,500m short track events. In addition, the mixed team Nordic combined competition also made its debut.

“We saw some new disciplines which had not been tested, and we will evaluate after the Games,” said the German, adding that several new sports, such as breaking and climbing, were introduced to the Olympic Games after tests at previous Youth Olympics.

“One of the purposes of this Youth Olympic Games is to test and then to take decisions about the Olympic program,” said Bach.

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