WITH 3-on-3 basketball and even beach wrestling potentially on the programme, the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010, for athletes aged 14 to 18, is shaping up to be more than just a mini-version of the Summer Olympics.
The menu of 26 sports will be part of an attempt to better “interest and appeal “to youth, said Singapore’s International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board member Ng Ser Miang. The Republic is hoping to host the historic event.
Take wrestling, for instance. In addition to conventional indoor events, the plan is to have an outdoor beach-wrestling version, too. As for basketball, different formats may be tried ” such as having teams of three, as opposed to five, battle it out and playing on a half-court only. And sailing will likely see a new youth class of boats used that will suit the abilities of the young athletes.
Mr Ng revealed the IOC’s plans to Today on the sidelines of a press conference held at the Singapore Sports School yesterday to rally support for the Singapore bid, which was submitted to the IOC in August.
“The international federations (of the respective sports) can be creative about the kinds of events they want to include. They can experiment and present the sports to create interest and appeal to the youth, to bring them into the sports, “he said.
Nine other cities ” Algiers (Algeria), Athens (Greece), Moscow (Russia), Turin (Italy), Bangkok (Thailand), Debrecen (Hungary), Guatemala City, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Poznan (Poland) ” are also in the running and have until Oct 26 to submit detailed plans for their bids.
Even before it announces its final decision next February, the IOC is already making a concerted effort to ensure the Games will take on its own unique identity in the long term.
IOC president Jacques Rogge ” who recently met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the IOC headquarters in Switzerland to discuss the Games ” said in May that national anthems and flags would be excluded.
When the winners of each event step up to the podium to receive their medals, only the Olympic flag and official anthem will be used, to sidestep nationalist fervour.
On why he felt the time was right for the IOC to have an event for the young, Mr Ng said it was important to start educating them early on core Olympic values such as respect, excellence and friendship.
“Different countries around the world have similar issues facing their youth ” inactivity due to spending so much time on their computers, which results in obesity.
“And when it comes to competition, to also explain things like over-training and doping, “said Mr Ng.
At yesterday’s press conference, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Teo Ser Luck called on Singaporeans to band together and support the Republic’s bid to bag the honour of hosting the Games.
He unveiled a dedicated website (www.singapore2010.sg) that one can visit to read the latest updates, post feedback and suggestions, and view a new video promoting Singapore’s strengths that will be used as part of the bid.
Mr Teo also shared findings from his ministry that showed the number of Singaporeans taking part in sports is on the increase ” 48 per cent in 2005, up from 38 per cent in 2001. In the key 15-to-19 age bracket, this figure was 83 per cent, higher than the 68 per cent in 2001.
MCYS Permanent Secretary Niam Chiang Meng, chairman of the Singapore 2010 bid committee, said Singapore’s “good track record “in organising events quickly could work in its favour.
There are just two-and-a-half years between the time the Youth Games host city is revealed and the opening ceremony, compared to nearly seven years for the Summer Olympics, he noted.
“Ours is a single-tier Government, and we can make things happen quickly. We feel we can deliver a good event in quick time. I do believe we have a reasonably good chance of succeeding, “he said.