Michael Pavitt

With the Winter Youth Olympic Games heading to Gangwon in four years, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) can safely bill the event as being part of the legacy of Pyeongchang 2018.

Venues from the Winter Olympics will be utilised and can stem criticism that the expensively constructed facilities may lie dormant.

South Korean officials have clearly been interested in attracting events back to the venues.

If I rewind back nearly a year ago to the Krasnoyarsk 2019 Winter Universiade, Pyeongchang was name-checked as a future destination for the International University Sport Federation event.

The earliest opportunity for the South Korean region to host the newly rebranded Winter University Games would be 2025, but you suspect the Winter Youth Olympics taking place there in 2024 may push this back somewhat.

An ideal scenario, you suspect, would be for a similar gap from Pyeongchang 2018 to Gangwon 2014 for the university sport event to head to South Korea.

It would certainly give the impression that major sporting events would still be keeping most venues active.

While Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi has insisted the need for cities to use existing venues would not restrict the pool of candidates to hold the Winter Youth Olympic Games, it makes sense for those with the facilities to be the preferred options.

The IOC has warned cities not to construct expensive and technical venues such as sliding centres. It is worth noting the IOC Evaluation Commission for the 2026 Winter Olympics appeared far less keen for the sliding centre at Cortina to be rebuilt, yet Italian organisers are pressing ahead with their plans.

Bringing back major multi-sport events is clearly an important, dare I say it essential, part of ensuring a legacy of the facilities. However, I would suggest becoming a regular addition to International Federation's World Cup circuit is even more crucial.

Some sports seem to have achieved this with Pyeongchang, with the Phoenix Park having welcomed back snowboarders last year for competition and will do so again next month.

Pyeongchang has remained a curious absentee, however, from the World Cup programme of the sliding sports.

Pyeongchang hosted the Winter Olympics in 2018 but has not hosted a World Cup event since ©Getty Images
Pyeongchang hosted the Winter Olympics in 2018 but has not hosted a World Cup event since ©Getty Images

The Alpensia Sliding Centre last featured as part of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Cup circuit at the end of the 2016 to 2017 season, serving as a key test competition before the Winter Olympics.

Similarly, the Luge World Cup visited Pyeongchang during the 2016 and 2017 circuit, but has not been back since the Games ended.

The governing bodies of both sports probably have valid reasons for not featuring Pyeongchang on their top tier World Cup circuit since the Winter Olympics. The most obvious suggestion is logistics, as the circuits are largely centred in North America and Europe, with German tracks typically hosting multiple events throughout the season.

It makes perfect sense to host multiple events in the North America before heading to Europe, rather than dragging athletes and officials across to Pyeongchang, only to have to head immediately back after the event.

Pyeongchang, it should be noted, did host the Asian Luge Championships last month and features as part of the IBSF Intercontinental Cup circuit.

I wonder whether this could be about the change in the coming years, as sport increasingly turns towards Asia to both host events and secure sponsorship.

Another sliding centre is being constructed in China for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. With Sapporo appearing the strong favourites to host the 2030 Winter Olympics, a potential revamping of the sliding centre in Nagano might not be too far away.

A sliding centre is being constructed ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing ©Getty Images
A sliding centre is being constructed ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing ©Getty Images

Governing bodies could suddenly find themselves with multiple sliding centres in Asia.

It will be interesting to see how IFs may adapt to this change in the landscape, with multiple tracks in three different continents.

Could we see an increased presence of Asian venues on the IBSF and Luge World Cup circuits?

Will we soon see the first IBSF World Championships in Asia since Nagano back in 2003?

Maybe there will be the first Luge World Championships on the continent since the Japanese track held the event in 2004.

The most obvious option, surely, would be the full establishment of an Asian circuit for the sports, similar to the Europa Cup format the IBSF have in place.

An increased number of development opportunities for upcoming Asian athletes close to home would clearly be a big boost to the sports. Especially when you add in the potential sponsorship opportunities it could open up if more athletes from the likes of China, Japan and South Korea are flying high in the sport.

The facilities are clearly one of the biggest head scratchers when it comes to achieving a positive legacy from the Winter Olympics, particularly when you consider the costs of construction.

The IOC have taken the right approach in encouraging potential hosts to look for existing tracks, rather than building new facilities.

When it comes to new facilities, the onus does need to be on International Federations to help ensure they are hosting top level sporting action on a regular basis.