Youth Olympic Games – Summer 2014
by Adam Goodwin | 2013
In August 2014, China will host the II (2nd) Summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG), ever! This is very exciting for two reasons: how far China has developed over the past several decades, and the emphasis on sport and physical activity in today’s youth.
Youth Olympic Games
The Youth Olympic Games are fascinating. They take sport to the next level in terms of what it can offer to society and what society is beginning to expect from sport.
Every four years, a medium sized international city hosts the Summer Youth Olympic Games. 204 nations can enter teams (from my research, so far 70 nations have qualified at least one athlete for the August 2014 Games) – the same number of nations allowed by the International Olympic Committee to enter teams in the (“real”) Olympic Games.
The part that really sets the Youth Olympic Games apart from the Olympic Games are the two pillars of the Youth Games. Pillar One (1) is what one would expect of a international sporting event; sport and athletic competition. The Youth Olympic Games does not disappoint. 15-18 year olds can compete in 26 different Olympic disciplines. Pillar Two (2), and in my opinion, a very outstanding and fascinating feature, is the Culture and Education Program.
Culture and Education Program
The Culture and Education Program is fascinating. Just as the name suggests, the CEP program takes the YOG beyond just sport. It introduces the importance of continual and constant learning and culture and independence to the YOG participants (15-18 year olds).
Youth Olympians, when not competing, attend classes and sessions on health, fitness, careers, and the environment. They learn about important global and sport issues and policies. CEP takes the three Olympic Values – Excellence, Respect, and Friendship – to life for these young athletes.
There are programs and activities that motivates and educates Young Olympians to go back to their communities and be positive role models. Interacting off the competition field with competitors from other countries, nations, and cultures, provides a unique hands-on experience to learn about other ways of doing things. Speaking with fellow Young Olympians from a country not as well off will teach more well off Young Olympians about the extreme inequalities across the world when it comes to access to sport and to training facilities.
Why The Summer Youth Olympic Games
Why did the Internatioanl Olympic Committee, under the direction of their previous president, Mr. Jacques Rogue, start the YOG? Simple!
Across the world, there is unequal access to sport and training resources (e.g., coach, facilities, nutrition, etc). To no surprise, there is a large increase in physical inactivity (little/no physical activity) and obesity. Around the world, with the growth of technologies and passive activities for children and youth, participation in sport has declined (not for all sports – for example, soccer/football participation in Canada has increased).
The Youth Olympic Games intend to celebrate the world’s best young athletes – current Youth Olympians train into Olympians. This introduction to being an Olympian can motivate and inspire young athletes in to constantly and continually learning, training, and working towards the Olympic Games. To walk into the stadium for the Opening Ceremonies at an Olympic Games would be an unparalleled experience – truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and opportunity. The Culture and Education Program described above brings the Olympic Values of Respect, Excellence and Friendship to life for the world and the Youth Olympians. The Youth Olympic Games is also an opportunity for the world and the participants to share and celebrate the world’s many and numerous cultures (China alone has over 50 ethnic groups). The Youth Olympic Games also allows the International Olympic Committee and its worldwide partners, to promote sport and raise sport awareness, particularly in countries with barriers to youth participation in sport.
The Host City: Nanjing, China (The South Capitol
This year, Nanjing, China (meaning: Nan: “South;” and Jing: “Capitol” so the South Capitol of China) is the host city. You can read and view more about Nanjing, by visiting my Nanjing, China blog post (click here).
Your Call to Action
I encourage you, from August 16-28, 2014 to tune into CBC/CTV/Sportsnet/SportsCentre (if Canadian) and watch as this miraculous event takes place. Celebrate this event of culture, education, and the human nation.
These are one person’s thoughts and opinions. I welcome and strive to get your feedback and own thoughts. Feel free to comment below or connect with me via social media.
Adam Goodwin is a Canadian working in the United Kingdom, and is a proud shameless idealist. His parents currently work in Cairo, Egypt. He has siblings and distant family in Canada and around the rainbow nation’s only home. Follow his year+ overseas on Twitter (@adam13goodwin) and on this blog