What IOC hopes to achieve with the Youth Olympics
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge hopes the inaugural Youth Olympic Games will teach young athletes to embrace fair play and reject doping, racism and corruption.
Rogge will declare the inaugural games open in Singapore on Saturday, fulfilling his longtime wish to create a global, multi-sport event for young athletes.
“It’s a preparation for their later Olympic life,” Rogge told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
“In a very modern and human way we are going to tell them things that are important that they have to acquire. I think that is the added value of the Youth Olympic Games.”
The event will feature around 3,600 athletes – aged 14-18 and representing more than 200 nations – competing in the same 26 sports on the current Summer Olympics program.
Rogge said the athletes’ village – “what I call this magical atmosphere” – will double up as a giant classroom for the August 14-26 games.
“I believe I can say we are experts in staging major sports events,” Rogge said.
“But we are entering now a new field, the education field. We might make some errors in the beginning but we will learn from them.”
The IOC has sought to learn from groups such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides movements, schools, child experts in the academic world, and United Nations agencies.
Rogge hopes all this expertise will equip athletes to continue a lifetime of learning.
“We are not going to force-feed them with precooked information,” he said.
“Education is not only about the transfer of knowledge. It is about acquiring things, adopting them and executing.”
Workshops will be held in the athletes’ village to promote positive values and healthy lifestyles.
“Prevention of doping. Prevention of illegal betting because this is something that is coming up very much. Prevention of racism that unfortunately we see too much of in sporting fields,” Rogge said.
“And the Olympic values of pursuit of excellence and fair play.”
Athletes also will receive advice on diet and warm-up and training techniques to prevent injuries.
Yelena Isinbayeva, the Russian pole vault world-record holder and Olympic champion, will be the star presence in Singapore, supported by athletes from all 26 sports leading workshops.
Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps have also featured in pre-games publicity, promoted through a dedicated YouTube channel and social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.© AAP 2013
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