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229 athletes and 57 NOCs already benefitting from Olympic Solidarity support on the road to Milano Cortina 2026 – YOG athletes say what it means to them

International Olympic Committee

06 February 2024 – With two years to go to the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026 (6 to 22 February 2026), there are already 229 scholarship-holders and 57 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) benefiting from Olympic Solidarity support. Amongst them are 11 athletes who just participated at the Winter Youth Olympic Games Gangwon 2024. Five of them enjoyed their first Olympic success in Gangwon, winning a total of six medals. It is expected that the number of scholarship-holders will grow considerably in the coming two years.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Olympic Solidarity scholarship programme for Milano Cortina 2026 will contribute essential funding to cover costs related to training, travel and participation in qualification events. We asked some of the YOG athletes what this support means to them.

Double YOG medallist Luke Harrold: “To have that funding is really amazing”

New Zealand’s Luke Harrold was among the scholarship-holders to excel in the Republic of Korea, with the freestyle skier clinching gold in the halfpipe and bronze in big air. Now, the 15-year-old is hoping his YOG experiences will help him reach the Olympic stage.

“The Youth Olympics has been great; you basically get to role play what it will be like at the Olympics, so it’s a really cool experience. I really hope to make it to the Olympics one day, compete all over the world and just have fun doing it.”

Luke Harrold, New Zealand

Having received his Olympic Solidarity funding at the end of 2023, Harrold was quick to highlight the impact it is already having on his efforts to reach the highest level of freestyle skiing.

“It’s been so important,” he says. “It’s not easy competing in a sport like this; there are a lot of logistics and it’s not cheap. Obviously, the more money you have, the more you can invest in your training and the better you can get. So, to have that funding is really amazing.”

Thailand’s first medallist in a Winter Olympic event

Another athlete who found success in Gangwon is Agnese Campeol, who won Thailand’s first medal in a Winter Olympic event when she won a silver medal in the women’s monobob.

On the road to Gangwon, Campeol, just like the two athletes with whom she shared the podium, had benefited from Olympic Solidarity’s Youth Athlete Development Programme, which funded a series of development camps hosted by the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation. She will now be supported on the road to Milano Cortina 2026 with an individual Olympic Solidarity scholarship.

With Olympic Solidarity support: “I can focus on my skiing”

The Olympic Solidarity Scholarship Programme for Milano-Cortina 2026 is designed to improve the competitiveness of the Olympic Winter Games, offering NOCs the chance to provide their athletes with the support they need to prepare and attempt to qualify for the Games.

Scholarship-holders receive a monthly grant to contribute to their qualification efforts, which can help alleviate the financial strain of pursuing their sporting dreams.

That is certainly the case for Harrold’s New Zealand team-mate Finley Melville Ives, who won silver behind his compatriot in the halfpipe and is also receiving an Olympic Solidarity scholarship. Like Harrold, Melville Ives is grateful for the support and the difference it is already making to his career development.

“Coming from New Zealand we travel a lot, and it can get pretty expensive, so the Olympic Solidarity funding definitely relives a bit of stress. It helps with some of the funds for skiing, travelling and other expenses so that I can focus on my skiing without having to think about finance as much.”

Finley Melville Ives, New Zealand

A milestone on the path to the Olympic Winter Games

While the Scholarship Programme aims to support the athletes on their journey to the Olympic Winter Games, for many of the scholarship-holders, like Slovenian ski jumper Ajda Kosnjek, their experiences at the YOG are an important milestone in their preparations.

“It’s very exciting to compete in the Winter Youth Olympic Games,” she says. “It was an honour to jump in the Olympic venue, and one day I want to compete in the Olympic Winter Games, so this is a very good introduction.”

After winning gold in the mixed team event, Kosnjek also paid tribute to the support she has received through Olympic Solidarity.

“I was very excited to receive this scholarship on the path to Milano Cortina 2026. And I’m really grateful to Olympic Solidarity for giving me this chance.”

Ajda Kosnjek, Slovenia

Increasing support to all NOCs through Olympic Solidarity

The aim of Olympic Solidarity is to provide assistance to all NOCs for athlete development programmes, in particular those with the greatest need of it. This assistance is achieved through multi-faceted programmes prioritising athlete development, but also training of coaches and sports administrators, and promoting the Olympic values.

The development and assistance budget for the 2021-2024 plan amounts to USD 590,000,000, corresponding to the share of the broadcast rights from recent Olympic Games that belongs to the NOCs and representing a 16 per cent increase from the 2017-2020 period.

Olympic Solidarity redistributes these funds through programmes offered to all NOCs recognised by the IOC.


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