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Snow disrupts Youth Olympics in Gangwon; Cold wave alert issued in Seoul

By No Kyung-min

Published : Jan. 21, 2024 - 14:48

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Workers shovel snow at an ice rink in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, Sunday. (Yonhap) Workers shovel snow at an ice rink in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, Sunday. (Yonhap)

Heavy snowfall pounded the mountainous Gangwon Province on Sunday, where the Winter Youth Olympics are underway, disrupting outdoor competitions and scheduled side events.

In the capital Seoul, a cold wave advisory was to take effect from 9 p.m. Sunday, with a significant decline in temperatures expected throughout Monday and Tuesday.

According to the Games’ official website, the starting time of the men’s super-G final for Alpine skiing, originally to be held in Jeongseon at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, was moved to 2 p.m. due to a combination of snow and wind.

“There may be additional changes depending on weather conditions, so please check the competition schedule regularly,” the website said.

All of the scheduled indoor events, including the men's luge singles and women’s luge doubles, and most outdoor competitions like the biathlon single mixed relay and women's super-G Alpine skiing proceeded as scheduled.

The international sports competition for athletes aged 15 to 18 opened in Gangwon Province on Friday, with over 1,800 athletes from around the world participating. It continues until Feb. 1.

Side events that were to be held outdoors were impacted by bad weather.

Short track speedskater Lee June-seo’s two-hour lesson, scheduled to start at 11. a.m. at Gangneung Olympic Park, had to be canceled, according to All That Sports, a South Korean sports marketing agency. The agency manages the Play Winter Zone at five festival sites, offering interactive events and activities on the sideline of the Youth Games.

As of 7 a.m. on Sunday, the city of Gangneung had accumulated approximately 44 centimeters of snow since Thursday, with Samcheok and Yangyang recording 38.8 cm and 25.8 cm, respectively, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration.

At 8 a.m. Sunday, the provincial government downgraded its emergency mode to Level 1 from Level 2, which had been activated Saturday, as the intensity of rain and snow diminished.

To remove snow from roads and enhance traffic flow, the province mobilized 212 pieces of equipment, 303 personnel and 4,000 tons of deicer Sunday. Since the snow began falling through Sunday, 953 snow pieces of equipment and 12,237 personnel had been deployed, along with 6,000 tons of deicer.

The weather agency expected snow to continue throughout the afternoon on Sunday.

The ongoing edition of the event is the largest Winter Youth Olympics, featuring 1,803 athletes from 79 countries participating in 81 events across seven sports and 15 disciplines. As the host country, South Korea has the largest delegation of 102 athletes, followed by the United States with 101 athletes and Germany with 90 athletes.