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Youth Olympic games - A good idea?

Updated on February 3, 2012

Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games

The first Youth Olympic Games was held in Singapore.
The first Youth Olympic Games was held in Singapore.

Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games

The first youth Winter Olympic games is being held in 2012 in Innsbruck.
The first youth Winter Olympic games is being held in 2012 in Innsbruck.

What is the Youth Olympics?

The Youth Olympics was an idea proposed by Johann Rosenzopf in 1998. He did this to try to help counter the growing obesity epidemic which is affecting our children and the reducing participation of children in sports around the world. He envisioned it as a purely sporting event and this was met by negative response even from the IOC who wanted it to be a more about cultural education and why the Cultural exchange program was developed as a component of the games. The plans for the Youth Olympics were announced by Jacques Rogge in 2007 during the 119th IOC session. The values which the games should be built were:

  1. Bringing together the worlds bes young athletes

  2. Offering an introduction to Olympism

  3. Innovations in Education

  4. Debating Olympic values

Singapore was the selected as the first city to host the summer youth Olympic games in 2010 and Innsbruck the 2012 Youth winter Olympic games. This was announced on the 21/02/2008 and 12/12/2008 respectively. It will run in the same fashion as the Olympics of every two years but with the winter and summer swapped around, so 2010, 2014, 2018 etc. will be summer and 2012, 2016, 2020 etc will be the winter games.

Bid Video for Innsbruck

Requirements for the host

The idea for this was so that smaller cities which would be unlikely to win an Olympic bid could potentially host an Olympic event. They are quite strict about the requirements and here are some of them:

  • All events in same city

  • No new sports venues should be built

  • May build a media centre, village for athletes and coaches and a amphitheatre for workshops and classes.

  • All athletes will be shuttled in so no new transport to be built

  • Track and field stadium for opening and closing ceremonies must hold 10,000

  • 2500 seat aquatics centre for summer games.

This is to help keep the costs for the host cities down as it was said by the IOC that all infrastructure costs are to be met by the host city. However the IOC will pay travel costs and board for the athletes and coaches to the games and this has been estimated at around $11 million.

Sports and Participation

It will follow a programme very similar to the standard Olympics with a few omissions, additions and adaptations. E.g. Aquatics will include the diving and swimming events but will exclude the synchronized swimming and water polo. Basketball competition has been modified to a 3x3 half court with 5 minute periods. Cycling sees the additions of mountain biking and bmx to the road and track schedule. Other sports which are popular with youth will be considered if backed by international sports federations.

The Winter Olympics will be very similar e.g. Hockey will not only have women's and men's tournaments but also an individual skill challenge. There will be mixed team events In alpine and cross country skiing events.

In the 2010 Youth summer Olympics the age groups were 14-15, 16-17 and 17-18 based on how old you are on 31st of the year in which you are participating. Qualification was determined by the IOC and the international federation of the corresponding sport. It was important to the IOC that all nationalities took part in the games and so used a concept known as Universality Places, which is where a certain amount of spots for each event were left open for athletes from nations with no or very little representation regardless of qualifying marks or times. The aim is to have a minimum of four athletes from each nation at the Youth Olympics. No nation is allowed more than 70 athletes in individual sports events.

For team sports, one team per continent, yes you read that right, plus one for the host nation is allowed and there is a cap on 2 teams, 1 male, 1 female, per nation.

A summary of the 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games

Your thoughts?

Do you think that the Youth Olympic Games is a Good idea?

See results

Was the Youth Olympics a good idea?

The bottom line is yes, there was only one IOC member who was strongly opposed to it and that was because he felt that it was a large risk creating a new large scale event and that he felt that it wouldn't encourage new youths to sports.

The first Summer Olympic games featured 26 sports with 31 disciplines were represented and 204 of the 205 countries with Olympic committees competed, Kuwait was the only one not represented and this was allegedly down to interference from the government, however three Kuwait athletes competed under the Olympic flag with a total of 970 athletes taking part.

The Culture and education programme held a wide range of activities including workshops, talks by Olympians, community projects and much more these were all based abound 5 themes which were:

  • Olympism – the origins, philosophy, structure and evolution of the modern Olympics.

  • Skills development – the different aspects of a professional athletic career, such as personal development, career options and management of transitions in life.

  • Well-being and healthy lifestyle – healthy eating, stress management and risks in sport such as doping.

  • Social responsibility – being a responsible global citizen by caring for the environment and promoting sustainable development and community relations.

  • Expression – interacting with and learning from fellow athletes through digital media and evening festivals at the Youth Olympic Village.

These were a great success and were highly attended. Whilst the media coverage was not huge, 166 broadcasters signed contracts to show the games.

But in my humble opinion and that of most of the worlds media and sporting federations, this can only be a positive move and making more sports available to young people and giving them goals to aim for can only be a good thing. The Youth Olympics can only go from strength to strength and fingers crossed the winter Olympics will be as big a success as the Summer Youth Olympics was.


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    • dipless profile image

      dipless 6 years ago from Manchester

      This is a very good point, the focus on sport should certainly be on enjoyment, however I think that an event such as the Youth Olympics can just highlight sports to people which they may have not even considered or heard of.

      I totally agree that the winning at all costs mentality can be harmful and can cause early peaking both in a season and in a athletes career. I personally feel that if coaches are doing their job properly then this can be avoided.

      That is superb about her success in Singapore, that is an absolutely incredible achievement in itself and I wish her all the best in her future career and that it will help her advance her sporting career in the future.

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 6 years ago from Nottingham UK

      I'm not sure that the youth olympics as an event itself is an encouragement for young athletes as in many sports there are a huge number of regional and international competitions to concentrate on already which means that the athlete often can get into a heavy 'win at all costs' mentality when at such an age there should maybe be more of a focus on enjoyment. There are a lot of young athletes that almost peak too early.

      However I personally know a British athlete who triumphed in Singapore in 2010 and it has been a springboard for her continued success since then- which I hope shows she has the right attributes for long term success.


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