"Mr. No" Says Yes to Future of YOG

(ATR) President Jacques Rogge, the IOC's self-proclaimed "Mr. No", says he fully expects the Youth Olympic Games to live on long past Nanjing 2014 and Lillehammer 2016.

(ATR) President Jacques Rogge, the IOC's self-proclaimed "Mr. No", says he fully expects the Youth Olympic Games to live on long past Nanjing 2014 and Lillehammer 2016.

"I’m very positive and very optimistic for the future of the YOG because they are wanted by the athletes and they are wanted by the federations," he said, also citing strong support from the National Olympic Committees, "who really want these Games".

A record six NOCs are now bidding for 2018, and Rogge revealed he’s already hearing of possible candidatures for 2020.

Asked by Around the Rings where he’d rank the creation of the YOG among his accomplishments as IOC president, he demurred.

"That’s up to you to decide. I’m not going to speak about myself."

Rogge, however, was more than willing to talk about Singapore 2010 champions Jessica Fox of Australia and Chad Le Clos of South Africa, both of whom reached the podium again here in London.

With medals around their necks, they appeared in a media roundtable alongside the IOC president as well as YOG Ambassador and pole vault world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, who won bronze Tuesday night and revealed Wednesday morning she will try again for gold at Rio 2016.

According to Rogge, such success among YOG alumni at the traditional Olympics is great, but "that’s not really the purpose.

"If medals come, that’s fine," he said.

"The goal is not to have as many medalists as possible from the Youth Games succeeding in the traditional Games. The goal is to bring together athletes, to learn to live with differences and to apply all the skills that are useful for their future lives."

He mentioned media training, anti-doping procedures, injury prevention as well as the Culture & Education Program among those other attributes of the YOG.

A total of 154 participants from two summers ago are competing this year in London, said Rogge, but all 3,500 athletes from Singapore benefitted.

Perhaps none more so than Le Clos, who famously clipped Michael Phelps – his idol growing up and someone he got to know in Singapore, where the 22-time medalist served as a YOG Ambassador – to win 200m butterfly gold by just .05 seconds.

"I expected major successes at the traditional Games, but not necessarily with the examples that we are having here," admitted the IOC president.

"The reason why Chad has beaten Michael is that in his mind, he dared to take the step not to be afraid of Michael Phelps, to say I can be equal or I can be better than Michael Phelps," he explained.

"[The YOG] prepared the athletes for later life – sporting or non-sporting – and they prepared the athletes to think there is no limit to what they can do."

Rogge also acknowledged the role of the YOG as a sort of laboratory for new events as well as tweaks to existing ones. Modern pentathlon tested laser pistols in 2010 before approving them for 2012, and hockey is following the lead of basketball and its 3x3 debut in Singapore to introduce a seven-a-side discipline in Nanjing.

Asked about the size of the YOG and concerns that Nanjing is outstretching his original vision, Rogge conceded the IOC must be "very vigilant" in monitoring all future hosts as well as bid requirements to begin with.

"Yes, we are putting limits to the cities. Our goal is to have as many cities as possible to be able to organize the Games, and therefore the Games cannot be too expensive. The numbers must be controlled, and yes, there is a pressure to do more, there is a pressure to do better, but we have to keep these within reasonable limits.

"I’m known in the IOC as "Mr. No" because there are many requests for more athletes, more sports, more this and more that, and I say ‘No, no, no, no, no’."

Reported in London by Matthew Grayson.

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