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(LEAD) S. Korea, Japan, China to strengthen cooperation on 2024 Winter Youth Olympics

All News 17:47 February 09, 2023

(ATTN: REPLACES top photo; ADDS photos from meeting, more info in para 7)
By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Feb. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea, Japan and China have vowed to bolster their cooperation to ensure a successful staging of the Winter Youth Olympics here next year.

The three countries reached this and other agreements during their fourth trilateral sports ministers' meeting Thursday.

Park Bo-gyoon, South Korean minister of culture, sports and tourism, Keiko Nagaoka, Japanese minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, and Zhou Jinqiang, deputy head of the general administration of sport in China, met virtually and produced the "2023 Seoul Joint Declaration."

Under the declaration, the three Asian countries said they would try to spread the spirit of the Olympics for the future generation, strengthen partnership to ensure sustainable sports development, and reinforce cooperation in elite sports, anti-doping efforts and sports industries.

South Korean Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Park Bo-gyoon attends a virtual sports ministers' meeting with Keiko Nagaoka, Japanese minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, and Zhou Jinqiang, deputy head of the general administration of sport in China, in Seoul on Feb. 9, 2023. (Yonhap)

South Korean Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Park Bo-gyoon attends a virtual sports ministers' meeting with Keiko Nagaoka, Japanese minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, and Zhou Jinqiang, deputy head of the general administration of sport in China, in Seoul on Feb. 9, 2023. (Yonhap)

The three countries held their sports ministerial meeting in 2016, prior to a trio of Olympic Games they went on to host: the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. This was the first meeting since Beijing 2022.

Gangwon Province on the east coast of South Korea will stage the 2024 Winter Youth Olympics, which Park said will be an opportunity to combine the best of South Korean pop culture and sports. He asked for continued interest and support from his Japanese and Chinese counterparts.

Also on Thursday, the International Olympic Committee's Coordination Commission on the 2024 Winter Youth Olympics concluded its two-day visit to Gangwon. Zhang Hong, head of the commission, and Christophe Dubi, the Olympic Games executive director for the IOC, said they expected Gangwon to stage a successful competition.

South Korean Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Park Bo-gyoon (C) attends a virtual sports ministers' meeting with Keiko Nagaoka (L), Japanese minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, and Zhou Jinqiang (R), deputy head of the general administration of sport in China, in Seoul on Feb. 9, 2023. (Yonhap)

South Korean Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Park Bo-gyoon (C) attends a virtual sports ministers' meeting with Keiko Nagaoka (L), Japanese minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, and Zhou Jinqiang (R), deputy head of the general administration of sport in China, in Seoul on Feb. 9, 2023. (Yonhap)

Nagaoka and Zhou said they were looking forward to an Olympic Games filled with cultural events, and also called for trilateral cooperation for this year's Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, and the 2025 Tokyo Summer Deaflympics, a multisport competition for deaf athletes.

"We must make sure the spirit of solidarity and harmony through Olympics will be passed down to future generations," Park said in his keynote speech. "This is the time to open a new horizon in Northeast Asian sports cooperation. Building on the unifying power of sports, the three countries must take the next step to become the leaders in international sports in the post-COVID era."

This file photo from Jan. 19, 2023, shows Moongcho (C), mascot for the 2024 Winter Youth Olympics in the South Korea's eastern province of Gangwon. (Yonhap)

This file photo from Jan. 19, 2023, shows Moongcho (C), mascot for the 2024 Winter Youth Olympics in the South Korea's eastern province of Gangwon. (Yonhap)

Park added that a new paradigm in sports will be necessary as the world emerges from the pandemic.

"With sustainable sports that take into account the environment and the less fortunate, we must lead the world to a better place," Park said. He noted that the areas of cooperation for the three countries include: research on building a system for eco-friendly sports development; development of sports programs promoting health for the elderly population; and strategies to support underdeveloped countries.

The next three-way sports ministers' meeting is scheduled to take place in Japan in 2024, according to the South Korean sports ministry.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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