Foreign envoys in Seoul braved the winter chill on Monday to take part in a kickoff ceremony for an international sports camp designed to hone the Olympic spirit among youths from developing countries.
For two intensive weeks until Jan. 16, 166 young people from 40 countries are living together, eating together and training together in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, home to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, in what is dubbed the “Dream Program.”
The program is geared toward young people who might otherwise never get a chance to experience winter sports, with a focus on the Olympic competitions of figure skating, Alpine skiing, snowboarding and short-track skating.
|Officials gesture in unison in a group photo during a reception for the Dream Program in Pyeongchang, Gangwon|
Province, on Thursday. Those pictured include Kenyan Ambassador Ngovi Kitau (fifth from right) and Perla Garcia (seventh from right), a diplomat at the Paraguayan Embassy in Korea. (PyeongChang 2018)
Some 17 Asian countries are participating this year, including countries like East Timor and Papua New Guinea which sent young athletes for the first time. In fact, this year some 13 nations sent their youth to the Dream Program for the first time, including Vietnam, Uganda and Rwanda.
Officials from foreign diplomatic missions in Korea took part in the Pyeongchang promotional event to show their nations’ commitment to the program, including those from Paraguay, Kazakhstan and Kenya.
“It promotes international cooperation by bringing together people from different countries and regions (to) learn and share experiences and skills in winter sports as well as experience each other’s culture,” said Kenyan Ambassador to Korea Ngovi Kitau.
“This interaction promotes better understanding of the world and therefore opens new avenues for cooperation in sports and other socio-economic sectors for mutual betterment.”
Perla Garcia, a diplomat at the Paraguayan Embassy, and Yerlan Baizharassov, deputy secretary at the Kazakhstan Embassy, were also on hand at the opening ceremony.
The participants are getting intensive, Olympic-caliber training from Olympic medalists, national team coaches and sports experts ― training that could prove invaluable as some of these young people may even qualify to compete in the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, organizers said.
The program also promotes cross-cultural exchange and builds international friendships among youths from all over the world, they added.
Korea received the nod from the International Olympic Committee to host the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games in an intensively competitive campaign, edging out Munich, Germany.
Also called its “Winter Sports Academy,” Korea’s Dream Program seeks to inculcate a more systematic and focused winter sports training for youths who cannot get it otherwise.
By Philip Iglauer (email@example.com