Kids Sports News Network

The Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing

Youth Olympic GamesWhile the AAU Junior Olympic Games are known as the largest national multi-sport event for youth in the United States, the International Olympic Committee has decided to take this kind of youth sporting event across countries.  The Youth Olympic Games brings talented young athletes, age 15-18, from over 200 countries to not only compete but to participate in cultural and educational exchange.  For some of these athletes, this will be the height of their sports career and for others it will be a jumping off point for them.  Watch interviews, best of the day recaps, and different cultural events on the Youth Olympic Games YouTube channel and check out the Nanjing 2014 YOG results.

The 2nd Youth Olympic Summer Games was held in Nanjing this year, August 16-28, 2014.  Thus far, there has been one other summer games, Singapore (2010), and one winter games, Innsbruck (2012).  205 National Olympic Committees participated in Singapore in 2010, 69 in Innsbruck in 2012, and 201 this year in Nanjing.  Over 3,500 athletes participated in the 12-day games in Singapore, 1,100 athletes in Innsbruck, and 3,600 this year in Nanjing.  Other participants include the Young Reporters, Ambassadors and Athlete Role Models.  The next winter games are scheduled to be held in Lillehammer in 2016 and summer games in Buenos Aires in 2018.

The Youth Olympic Games are not only a sporting event for young people but it incorporates a number of cultural and educational events as well.  The sports program features 28 summer sports and 7 winter sports with new formats including 3-on-3 basketball, ice hockey skills challenge, and mixed gender events.

Nanjing 2014 YOG

However, the Youth Olympic Games primarily distinguishes itself from other youth sports events by its integration of a Culture and Education Programme (CEP) based on five themes: Olympism, Social Responsibility, Skills Development, Expression and Well-being, and Healthy Lifestyles.  The Culture and Education Programme in Nanjing attracted a record 100,000 participants helping them in their future careers.  Through interactive activities, workshops and team-building exercises, athletes explored other cultures, became true ambassadors of their sport, and learned about the Olympic values.  Athletes also learned about time management, balancing sport and education, and media training from former Olympic champions.  They also spent time in the kitchen learning about healthy cooking and playing a simulation in the WADA anti-doping workshops.  The hope is to create a generation of athletes who completely reject doping in respect for their bodies, their sports and their competitors.  (Test your knowledge of anti-doping with this quiz:

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova credited sports with the power unite and drive social change: “We must craft new ways to support youth by leveraging the transformative power of culture and sport.  These fundamental forms of human expression reflect values at the core of the Olympic Movement, which are essential for tolerance and solidarity.”  The story of 17-year-old discus thrower, Taui Saiasi Hauma, exemplifies the potential and power of the Youth Olympic Games to change lives. Hauma traveled from Tuvalu, a small Pacific Island, with two other athletes to participate in this year’s games.  At 26 sq km and a population of less than 11,000, Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world.  Its National Olympic Committee participated for the first time in the Olympics in Beijing, 2008.  The YOG is an opportunity for them to network with other NOCs, coaches and experts.  Hauma’s discus coach, Esau Teagai, explained, “It’s another step for our country to develop in sports.  Being here at the Youth Olympic Games, we can experience new [coaching] techniques and socialize with others.”  Not only did Hauma have the the chance to compete against the top junior athletes in the world and see what’s out there, he also recorded a personal best ever throw of 33.45m over his previous best mark of 29.17m.

Not only did the Youth Olympic Games uses existing venues to efficiently and sustainably grow their events, they also maximized social media and the popularity of new sports to attract a record number of participants in both the sports programme as well as the culture and education programme.  Nanjing used existing venues and facilities from the 2005 Chinese National Games and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.  The games also saw a record numbers in social and physical participation.  There were over 600,000 interactions via YOGGER to share contacts and over 200 million posts via #YOGselfie and #nanjing2014.  The new Sports Lab also drew a large crowd showcasing roller sports, skateboarding, sport climbing and wushu.  With its success attracting almost 3,000 visitors per day, I think we can see a bigger presence of these sports in future Youth Olympic Games.  Nanjing also proved successful for other events including 5-a-side hockey, 8x100m relay, golf and rugby, but particularly the mixed team and mixed country events.  The IOC President deemed these games to “have been Youth Olympic Games of innovation.”


Author: Melanie Carbine

Melanie Carbine has lived in various parts of the world including Micronesia and the United States.  She currently writes for several education blogs, vlogs about her travels, and teaches middle school in the DC Metro Area.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *