(LEAD) Yoon declares Winter Youth Olympics open in Gangneung

President Yoon Suk Yeol attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Youth Olympics in Gangneung on Friday, declaring the games open and sending his support to the 1,802 athletes from 78 countries. The ceremony was held at Gangneung Oval in the city some 160 kilometers east of Seoul. The competition, open to athletes between the ages of 15 and 18, will wrap up on Feb. 1. "The Olympics and sports heal conflicts and unite the world. Young athletes from around the world and future generations will squarely compete and gain valuable experiences under the five rings," Yoon said during the ceremony. "Let's all wish for the successful hosting of Gangwon 2024 together," Yoon said, shouting the slogan of the 2024 Youth Olympics, "Grow Together, Shine Forever." The fourth edition of the Winter Youth Olympics is being held in Asia for the first time, with venues in Gangneung, Pyeongchang, Jeongseon and Hoengseong, all in Gangwon Province. Pyeongchang was also the host of the 2018 Winter Olympics. At a reception he ld at Seamarq Hotel in Gangneung shortly before the opening ceremony, Yoon met with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and other committee members, and stressed his commitment to ensuring the Winter Youth Olympics are held successfully, according to his office. Earlier in the day, Yoon also met with a group of 15 local college students at a cafe run by a youth entrepreneur and listened to their thoughts and concerns about university life, their future careers, financing tuition and living costs, and ways to develop the local economy and local colleges. Yoon promised to give his full attention and support to helping the students realize their dreams and to quickly and properly incorporate their opinions into policymaking, his office said. Source: Yonhap News Agency