“Tonight we open a new chapter in the history of the Olympic Movement,” said President Rogge. “From this moment on, young people around the world have a chance to participate in a global event that combines sport, education and culture.”
The IOC President added that he expected the first-ever Youth Olympic Games, which run from 14 to 26 August, to produce high-level sporting competition within an Olympic environment while at the same time providing the athletes with a platform to learn, share and build friendships through a supporting Culture and Education Programme.
Attending the Opening Ceremony were Singapore Prime Minister Hsien Loong, Coordination Commission Chairman for the 1st Summer Youth Olympic Games Sergey Bubka, and Youth Olympic Games Ambassador Yelena Isinbaeva, among others.
Addressing the athletes, President Rogge said their participation at the Youth Olympic Games would help them “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.”
With sport as a foundation, the Youth Olympic Games will give the young athletes their first taste of the Olympic experience and provide valuable lessons that the athletes can leverage in their future careers, be it in sport or other vocations.
Singapore 2010 will feature some of the world’s most talented young athletes from 205 territories who will take part in the 26 sports currently on the Summer Olympic Programme as well as some exciting new events, including 3-on-3 basketball, head-to-head canoe and kayak, and cycling combined (BMX/mountain bike/road).
The Youth Olympic Games will also introduce for the first time the mixed-gender competition format that will see both boys and girls competing in the same event in sports such as triathlon and swimming, among others.
In addition to competing individually for their National Olympic Committees, the young athletes will also participate on teams made up of different nationalities. The mixed events are meant to strengthen bonds between the athletes and foster better understanding of each other’s cultures and backgrounds.