YOG gets underway

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International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge is convinced the inaugural Youth Olympic Games will prove to be a resounding success, but expects a few setbacks along the way.

The event, three years in the making, got under way on Saturday 14 September 2010 in Singapore with athletes aged between 14 and 18 from all 205 Olympic nations participating in all 26 sports on the London 2012 Olympics programme over the course of 12 days. "I feel like a father in the delivery room waiting for the baby to be born, " said Rogge. "It's an ambitious project that we're going to approach with great humility. We're going to monitor it very closely. There will be mistakes but we'll learn from them. I'm optimistic because I believe in the concept. We still make mistakes in the traditional Olympics after 100 years. " Rogge dismissed fears the Games would put athletes under too much pressure at too early an age, stressing that education as well as sporting excellence was a priority for the IOC with all athletes due to remain in Singapore until competition concludes on 26 August to take part in culture and education programmes. "I'm not concerned because the athletes participating here have already participated in World Junior Championships so I'm not worried by overload, " the 68–year–old Belgian added. "We've also worked very closely with national federations to protect the physical and psychological well–being of athletes. I'm confident they won't be overloaded. The fundamental principle is that there was a need to provide education at an age where they are receptive. We want to give them skills for life, which is why we're going to invest in the education part – a strong prevention of doping, which is very important, a healthy lifestyle, infectious diseases, stress that while they may be immersed in sport now, they will have to rejoin professional life at some point and we believe this is important. "Rogge played down the prospect that local apathy may lead to a swathe of empty seats at the various venues. "I think this is a result of being a first edition, " he said. "You need time for an organisation to be known. I'm sure after the opening ceremony, the interest of the Singaporeans will be ignited. I'm absolutely thrilled by the organisation. What they've done in two and a half years is amazing. "Rogge also refuted the suggestion young people were losing interest in the Olympics, citing recent steps taken by the IOC to engage them in both the summer and winter editions. "I've no issue with young people being attracted to the Olympics. For 12–24 year–olds we had very good figures after Vancouver and Beijing, " he said. "There's a very good interest in the 12–24 group, especially after we've adapted the Olympic programme – I think of snowboard, BMX and mountain bike. "Meanwhile, London 2012 chairman Lord Sebastian Coe also gave a ringing endorsement to the inaugural Youth Olympics, adding: "One of the things organisers should remember about the Youth Olympic Games is that they're for young people and we should allow young people, in a way, to decide what they want from these Games. To be too tight about this would be to miss the whole purpose of these Games. This is about helping to drive the values of the Olympic movement at a formative age. "This environment is about the management of time, it's about learning to live with the pressures of competition at such a global level, learning to live in the village. Don't be afraid to innovate, use this opportunity as a way of looking at sports presentation, of allowing a sport to develop, fashioned and shaped by young people. It's an extraordinary opportunity and there is no reason to believe it won't become anything other than a permanent fixture on the landscape. "About The Sport Briefing This story has been reproduced with the kind permission of The Sport Briefing. The Sport Briefing is published by PA Sport and can be found at: www. thesportbriefing. comSubscribers to Major Events International can take advantage ofexcellent discounted rates for The Sport Briefing. Sign up now to receive a 20% discount on your annual licence for TheSport Briefing. Special rates are also available for company–widesubscriptions. Subscribers receive a daily digest or up to 30 stories from across every sector of the global sports industry, access to the 24–sevenwww. thesportbriefing. com website and a hard copy of the quarterlymagazine. For more information, email info@thesportbriefing. com or call +(0) 44 207 963 7888.

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