(ATR) Former IOC president Jacques Rogge tells Around the Rings that the future of the Youth Olympic Games is bright as he prepares to attend the Nanjing YOG next month.
About the inaugural edition of the YOG in 2010, Rogge said: "Singapore was a great success because the Youth Games were embraced by the international federations, the athletes, and the IOC itself."
Asked what he hoped for in Nanjing, Rogge succinctly replied, "To further consolidate the success of Singapore."
Rogge created and implemented the Youth Olympic Games concept and oversaw the inaugural editions of the Summer YOG in Singapore (2010) and the Winter YOG in Innsbruck (2012). He will attend Nanjing 2014, staying for the duration of the Games, August 16-28.
Regarding the Nanjing Games, in which approximately 3,500 youth athletes between the ages of 15 to 18 will participate, while representing 204 NOCs, Rogge said, "There will be new innovative sports. Demonstration sports will be added to the program, so I think that is going to be a very interesting part."
"I really see kind of a consolidation of the success of Singapore," said the 72-year-old former IOC leader, who completed his 12-year tenure in September.
In Nanjing, several new sports and formats will once again be seen for the first time at the Youth Olympic Games. During the final IOC inspection visit in early April, the 8 x 100m Yangshan Road urban athletics venue was finalized, and during the Games, spectators will witness two new sports on the Olympic program - golf and rugby sevens - ahead of their debuts at Rio 2016.
"I think it is going to be a good test, especially with the young athletes that we are going to have," Rogge said. "This is the generation that is going to compete in golf in the traditional Games."
Rogge suggested that one of the assets of the YOG is that hosting the Games is attractive to smaller cities that might not have the capability or desire to stage the traditional Olympic Games.
"Already in winter sports, we see a very good example that the candidature of Lausanne and Brasov [Romania] are a good sign that we are going to cities that would not normally organize the Olympic Games," Rogge said referring to the candidate cities for the 2020 Winter YOG, both of which submitted bids last November.
In Nanjing – which was awarded the Games in February 2010 at the 122nd IOC session in Vancouver – the complete Olympic program of 28 sports will be carried out, taking place at 27 competition venues.
As in Singapore and Innsbruck, the Culture and Education Program (CEP) will be a key component, offering an array of activities designed to teach the young athletes life skills, provide growth in their sporting careers and achieve healthy lifestyles. The multi-faceted program aims to inspire young people to become part of the Olympic movement and embrace the Olympic spirit.
Teenaged competitors at the Games will be mentored by 104 Youth Ambassadors, including recent U.S. Open golf champion Michelle Wie, 2010 YOG medalist and Olympic 200-meter swimming champion Chad de Clos, and the most decorated Olympian in history, Michael Phelps.
"Of course, I’m looking forward to it," Rogge said about the third edition of the Games, thirteen days which will continue to burnish his legacy. "I think it’s going to be a great success."
Written by Brian Pinelli in Lausanne
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