Countdown for Korea at Asia's first Winter Youth Olympic Games. THE OLYMPIC GAMES

To ensure spectator comfort and athlete safety, sports officials and national authorities are overseeing facilities and finalising venue preparations. Pyeongchang, Hoengseong and Jeongseon will host the skiing, snowboarding and sliding events. Gangneung will host the ice events.

South Korea's Sports Minister Yu In-chon has vowed that the fourth Winter Youth Olympic Games will be the "safest and most comfortable" in history. His comments were reported by the Korea Times newspaper last Friday. Yu used the final week before the 2024 Pyeongchang Games to inspect the facilities and ensure they are in perfect condition for the events, which begin next Friday 19 January. 

"The focus is to ensure that spectators can enjoy their experience in a comfortable environment," said Yu at the Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre in Pyeongchang, where he gave an update on the conditions at one of the venues that will be most active during the competitions. South Korea opens the stage for Asia. It is the first time the Games have been held outside Europe, with Austria, Norway and Switzerland hosting the previous three editions.

The Olympic legacy of Pyeongchang 2018 will be a key factor in the organisation of Gangwon 2024. Many of the facilities used during the Winter Olympics will be in use for the youth competitions. For the young athletes, the same venues where their idols competed six years ago will be the venue for the ice events in Gangneung, while the cities of Hoengseong and Jeongseon will be the venues for the skiing, snowboarding and sliding events.

During his appearance, Prime Minister Yu stressed the dual role of not only the Gangwon 2024 Games, but the Olympic movement as a whole in promoting cultural education, according to the Korea Times. It is not just about winning medals, it is about young people exchanging much more. 

Vice Minister of Sports Jang Mi-ran, the 2012 Olympic weightlifting champion, also spoke to reporters about what the hosting of an event like Gangwon could mean. Jang spoke to reporters after visiting the Gangneung ice sports facilities. "When they see young athletes from other countries training and competing, I think our boys and girls will feel a lot of different emotions that they wouldn't feel otherwise," Jang was quoted as saying by the Korea Times.

South Korea sees the organisation of the Games as a challenge and a test to be overcome. The last major event held in the country was the World Scout Jamboree, and criticism of a lack of foresight in some areas has cast doubt on the success of this fourth Winter Youth Olympics. 

The days leading up to the event are always full of excitement as the delegations from different countries move into their accommodation. The days leading up to the event are always a nerve-wracking time as the participants find their homes for the days of the competition.

The 13-day competition begins on Friday 19 January after the Opening Ceremony. GETTY IMAGES
The 13-day competition begins on Friday 19 January after the Opening Ceremony. GETTY IMAGES

The 15 disciplines at Gangwon 2024 include alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsleigh, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, luge, nordic combined, short track speed skating, skeleton, ski jumping, snowboarding and speed skating. 

The Opening Ceremony, which marks the end of the Gangwon 2024 Torch Tour and concludes with the lighting of the Youth Olympic Cauldron, will be held simultaneously at the Gangneung Oval and the Pyeongchang Dome on Friday.