Thomas Skrlj/COC/CBC
Thomas Skrlj/COC/CBC

FAQ: What are the Youth Olympic Games?

The Youth Olympic Games are a multi-sport games experience for athletes aged 15 to 18, modeled after the Olympic Games format. There are Winter and Summer editions of the Youth Olympic Games. Each is scheduled to be held every four years, alternating between the seasons every two years. 

The 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games are taking place in Gangwon, South Korea. These Games will feature 15 disciplines with 81 events, and a fully gender balanced programme. The last Summer Youth Olympic Games took place in Buenos Aires in 2018 and featured 36 disciplines and 239 events.

The Youth Olympic Games are often used as a testing ground for sports that may get added to the Olympic program. For example, recent additions like sport climbing, breaking, and 3×3 basketball all made their debut at the Youth Olympic Games before making their way onto the Olympic program. 

However, the Youth Olympic Games are distinct from the Olympic Games in that they focus on both sport and personal development, including educational and cultural programming for the teenage participants.

When are the Youth Olympic Games?

The fourth edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games will take place in Gangwon, South Korea from January 19 – February 1. This is the same region where the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games were held.

The fourth edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games will be held in Dakar, Senegal in 2026.

Where have the Youth Olympic Games been held?

Editions of the Summer Youth Olympic Games have taken place at:

*Dakar, Senegal was set to host the Summer Youth Olympic Games in 2022, but the Games were postponed due to COVID-19.

Members of the 2020 Canadian Youth Olympic team celebrate the closing ceremony of the Lausanne Youth Olympics on Wednesday, January 22, in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Photo: Thomas Skrlj/COC/CBC)

Editions of the Winter Youth Olympic Games have taken place at:

How big are the Youth Olympic Games?

Gangwon 2024 will feature 1900 athletes, making it the largest Winter Youth Olympic Games yet. Team Canada consists of 79 athletes.

At the last Summer Youth Olympic Games, 4000 athletes competed in Buenos Aires, including 72 members of Team Canada.

Emma Spence of Team Canada, Csenge Maria Bacskay HUN and Giorgia Villa ITA with their medals after the Gymnastics Artistic Womens Vault Final at The America Pavilion, Youth Olympic Park. The Youth Olympic Games, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday 13th October 2018. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand for OIS/IOC.

What sports are included in the Youth Olympic Games?

The Winter Youth Olympic Games at Gangwon 2024 feature the following sports/disciplines:

  • Alpine Skiing
  • Biathlon
  • Bobsleigh
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Curling
  • Figure Skating
  • Freestyle Skiing
  • Ice Hockey
  • Luge
  • Nordic Combined
  • Short Track Speed Skating
  • Skeleton
  • Ski Jumping
  • Snowboard
  • Speed Skating (Long Track)

The Summer Youth Olympic Games at Buenos Aires 2018 featured the following sports/disciplines:

  • Aquatics (Diving, Swimming)
  • Archery
  • Athletics
  • Badminton
  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Canoe/Kayak (Sprint, Slalom)
  • Cycling
  • Breaking
  • Equestrian
  • Fencing
  • Football (Soccer)
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics (Acrobatic, Artistic, Rhythmic, Trampoline)
  • Handball 
  • Field Hockey
  • Judo
  • Karate
  • Modern Pentathlon
  • Roller Speed Skating
  • Rowing
  • Rugby
  • Sailing
  • Shooting
  • Sport Climbing
  • Table Tennis
  • Taekwondo
  • Tennis
  • Triathlon
  • Beach Volleyball
  • Weightlifting
  • Wrestling

Who has served as Chef de Mission for the Youth Olympic Games?

Like at the Olympic Games, the Canadian team at the Youth Olympic Games has a Chef de Mission who serves as the leader of the delegation. Like at the Olympics, it is the Chef’s role to support, inspire, and communicate on behalf of Team Canada. 

FAQ: What is a Chef de Mission?

Olympic curler Lisa Weagle will serve as the Chef de Mission for Team Canada at Gangwon 2024. Weagle attended PyeongChang 2018 and Beijing 2022 as an athlete.

Lisa Weagle slides towards the camera as she prepares to throw a curling stone
Lisa Weagle, Team Canada Chef de Mission for the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games, at the Ottawa Curling Club on February 11, 2023 (COC Photo/Greg Kolz)

Olympic swimmer Annamay Oldershaw served as the Chef de Mission for Lausanne 2020. Oldershaw competed at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

The Chef de Mission from Buenos Aires 2018, Bruny Surin, is likely a familiar face to many, as he is set to serve as the Chef de Mission for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Surin is a four-time Olympian in athletics, competing at Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000. Surin was part of the gold medal winning 4x100m relay team including Donovan Bailey, Glenroy Gilbert, Robert Esmie and Carlton Chambers at Atlanta 1996.

Montréal, Quebec: 29/04/2022 Photo Bernard Brault, COC Bruny Surin

Short track speed skating Olympian Isabelle Charest served as the Chef de Mission for Lillehammer 2016. Charest competed at Lillehammer 1994, Nagano 1998 and Salt Lake City 2002. Charest won a silver medal in 1994 as part of the women’s 3000m relay, as well as bronze medals in the same event at the 1998 and 2002 Games.

Olympic field hockey player Sandra Levy served as the Chef de Mission for Nanjing 2014. Levy competed at Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992.

Beckie Scott served as the Chef de Mission for Innsbruck 2012. Scott competed at Nagano 1998, Salt Lake City 2002 and Turin 2006. In 2002, Scott became the first North American woman to win an Olympic medal in cross-country skiing. At Turin 2006, she added a silver medal in the women’s team sprint.

Who is on the Canadian Winter Youth Olympic Games Team for 2024?

Canada will be represented in Gangwon by a team of 79 emerging talents that range in age from 14-18.

Meet the team here.