Today saw the start of the 12-days of competition at the Youth Olympic Games, or YOG, which is being held in Singapore. This is the first ever Youth Olympic Games, the brain child of the IOC President, Jacques Rogges. There was a spectacular opening ceremony last night, highlights of which can be seen on BBC Red Button or over at the official YOG site and there are some awesome photos on flickr here. The YOG will see over 3500 athletes aged 14-18, representing 205 National Olympic Committees, compete in 26 different sports and participate in a Culture and Education Programme, or CEP.
The CEP is absolutely core to the spirit of the YOG, it builds on the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect and it is designed to ensure that the young athletes get a balanced and rounded experience where they can focus on sport, education and culture.
Photo by coolinsights
Jacques Rogges spoke at the opening ceremony about the importance of the games for the young athletes:
Your experiences here will help you prepare for life beyond the field of play. You will share the wonderful atmosphere of the Olympic Village. You will gain a deeper appreciation of Olympic values. You will acquire knowledge and life skills through our culture and education programme.
You will learn the difference between winning and being a champion. To win, you merely have to cross the finish line first. To be a champion, you have to inspire admiration for your character, as well as for your physical talent. You have to compete in spirit of fair play, respecting your opponents and the rules — without doping or any other unfair advantage.
If you can reach that pinnacle, if you are ready to serve as role models for your generation, you will all be champions, irrespective of your rankings.
You can read all of his speech here if you are interested and I’d recommend taking a peak at some of the Young Ambassador’s blogs for a fascinating insight into the behind the scenes action. Check out Erin’s blog from Team USA, Florian’s from Team Austria, Callum’s from Team Canada or of course Ferg’s from Team GB.