International Olympic Committee (IOC) Member and International Ice Skating Union (ISU) President Kim Jae-yul is eager to see the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games (Gangwon 2024) succeed. Like the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, he wants to showcase South Korea’s status around the world. This was even more urgent as it was his first Olympic debut since being elected to the IOC.
Gangwon 2024, which kicked off on March 19 and ran for 14 days until March 1, received rave reviews from most who attended. In particular, the venues and operations received high marks. “I feel good about the response to our hard work,” Kim said recently. Guests from both Korea and overseas praised the event. I think it’s the result of the combined efforts of all members of the organizing committee and volunteers.”
Kim, who served as vice president of the organizing committee for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, has taken on a new role as an IOC member. “The two roles are definitely different. In 2018, I was in the position of executing to make the Games a success, and this year I am contributing to the Games themselves,” said Kim. “I felt that the two Games raised the profile of Korean sport. I am honored to have been part of these two special events in Korea.”
Kim is most pleased with the use of Olympic legacies. While it was once criticized as a waste of money, most of the venues from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics six years ago were used once again for the Games. That’s not all. Human programs such as the Gangwon Dream Project have been running since 2004.
“Every time I see the youth competing in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics legacy, my heart swells,” says Kim. “It’s not just the venues that are the same as in 2018. There are also many volunteers who have experienced the Olympic Games.” “We need to take care of all parts of the Olympic Legacy, including facilities and human programs. I am personally most proud of the Gangwon Dream Project, which has brought together more than 2,500 people from 97 countries over the past 20 years.”
The key to the success of the Games was the perfect preparation with proven facilities. “Facilities like the Gangneung Ice Arena are among the best in the world. The attention to detail and meticulous checking of even the smallest details ensured that there would be no problems. There is a solid reason why it is recognized not only in Korea but around the world.”
He also said that as ISU president, he has been thinking about how to stem the recent decline in popularity of sports among young people. “I think almost all sport federations have similar concerns,” he said. “It’s a big challenge to get kids around the world interested in sports,” he said. “It’s important to maintain traditions, but we also need to be relevant to younger generations. We need to do more to create an environment where children can participate voluntarily.”
As for Park’s bid for an IOC seat at the upcoming Summer Olympics in Paris, he believes she will do well. “I’m sure she’s done a lot of hard work to get there. She knows the value of hard work, so she will work hard in her campaign,” he said. “I look forward to seeing what she does as she has a unique competitive spirit.”