The Youth Olympic Games : its foundation and evolution / by Milena M. Parent

Parent, Milena M.

Edited by The Olympic Studies Centre - 2024

On 6 July 2007 in Guatemala, the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s members approved the proposal put forth by its then President, Jacques Rogge, to create what would be known as the Youth Olympic Games (YOG), in both a summer and winter format. Created to address the decline in physical activity and increased obesity that President Rogge had observed among young people, the YOG were to meet eight different objectives, be a multi-sport event of moderate size - scheduled over 12 days for the Summer YOG and 10 days for the Winter YOG - and have the young athletes stay for the whole period. The YOG editions would alternate every two years between the summer and winter editions, and young athletes aged 15 to 18 in the year the event was to be hosted would qualify to participate based on International Sports Federation qualifications. Moreover, a cultural and educational programme was created, in which the athletes would participate in addition to their sports competitions. Finally, the IOC’s vision for the YOG was to see the young athletes become Young Olympians and promote the Olympic values and Olympism once they returned to their communities. This chapter examines the YOG’s initial concept and evolution, and presents the event’s key outcomes, impacts, and legacies. Throughout, the chapter highlights the sporting, learning, and operational innovations seen in the YOG, which have become a testing ground for the Olympic Summer and Winter Games. For instance, though still focused on young athletes aged 15 to 18, the YOG now see the young athletes stay in two waves. The IOC has refined its vision for the event and reduced the objectives to four. Finally, the YOG concept has evolved to “Compete, Learn & Share.”

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