SINGAPORE: The inaugural Youth Olympic Games officially opened yesterday in a spectacular blaze of colour, with Jacques Rogge hailing it as a new chapter in the Olympic movement.
With the Singapore skyline as an impressive backdrop, some 7,000 singers and dancers performed in an opening ceremony on a floating platform at Marina Bay.
“Tonight we open a new chapter in the history of the Olympic movement,” International Olympic Committee President Rogge told the 27,000-capacity crowd and a worldwide television audience in declaring the Games open.
“From this moment onwards, all the young people around the world have a chance to participate in a global forum that combines sport, education and culture.”
The Games, which feature athletes aged 14 to 18, are a project Rogge has championed since becoming IOC chief in 2001, with the event designed as a stepping stone for youngsters striving to compete at an Olympics proper.
Around 3,600 athletes from 205 countries will take part in the 26 events that make up the traditional Olympics, with a simultaneous cultural and education programme running to teach them about Olympic values and global issues.
Some of the sports have been adapted, with new formats like street basketball and triathlon with mixed gender teams. There will even be competitions with mixed teams from different nationalities.
“To win, you merely have to cross the finish line. To be a champion, you have to inspire admiration for your character, as well as for your physical talent.”
As well as Rogge, the ceremony was attended by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Youth Olympic Games ambassador Yelena Isinbaeva, the Olympic pole-vault champion and world record-holder. Other Games ambassadors, swimming sensation Michael Phelps and sprint king Usain Bolt, sent messages of support.
The Games run from August 14 to 26.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2010.
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