POSTED: December 12th 2008

Innsbruck to launch winter YOG

Celebratory bid team / Image: Innsbruck 2012
Celebratory bid team / Image: Innsbruck 2012

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT / Sports Features Communications

LAUSANNE: Innsbruck will make history in 2012 as host city to the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games. A specially-convened postal vote among the members of the International Olympic Committee selected the Austrian city ahead of Kuopio in Finland.

Exactly 99 of the 110 voting IOC members cast a vote - 84 for Innsbruck and 15 for Kuopio. The Games will feature about 1,000 athletes, aged 14 to 18. and the competition schedule will be based on the seven sports included in Vancouver 2010 (biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating and skiing).

“On behalf of all Austrians, I want to thank the IOC for granting our nation the tremendous honor of hosting the first Winter Youth Olympic Games,” said Leo Wallner, president of the Austrian Olympic Committee and Austria’s only IOC member.

“This is a great day for Austria and a great day for all winter sports fans,” Wallner said. “More importantly, it is a great day for the future generations of young athletes who are dreaming of becoming winter Olympians. As their first destination, Innsbruck will help them fulfill their dreams.”

Christoph Platzgummer, Deputy Mayor of Innsbruck and president of the bid committee, said: "While we congratulate Kuopio on a great campaign we could not be more pleased with the IOC's decision. It reflects the IOC’s thorough examination of every facet of our plans and confirms Innsbruck’s reputation as a world-class winter sports destination."

Passion for snow and ice

Heinz Jungwirth, the secretary general of the Austrian Olympic Committee, said: “As an alpine country, winter sports play a key role in our culture and helps to unify our nation as we celebrate our passion for snow and ice.

“Winning the right to host the first Winter Youth Olympic Games affirms the importance of winter sports within our nation. We will do everything in our power to serve and strengthen the Olympic Movement by ensuring the success of this inaugural event.”

In June the IOC had narrowed bid cities down to Harbin (China), Innsbruck, Kuopio and Lillehammer (Norway). The four were later reduced to two from which the IOC executive board issued its own recommendation to members ahead of the vote.

Innsbruck may have been better placed to fulfil the aim of not needing significant new infrastructure after having hosted the senior winter Games in 1964 and 1976 though Kuopio spokesmen claimed they kept costings perhaps deceptively - and damagingly - low in line with IOC guidance.

Realising the concept of a youth Olympics for teenaged athletes aged between 15 and 18 was among the priorities set by Dr Jacques Rogge when he assumed the IOC presidency in 2001 and the first such summer Games will be staged next year in Singapore.

The qualification system and programme for Singapore was approved on Thursday by the IOC. Just under 3,600 athletes will compete in 26 sports with 201 events, matching the schedule for London 2012. Each event may comprise three age groups of 15-16 (27 events), 16-17 (111 events) and 17-18 (63 events).

Highest standards

The participation of all 205 national Olympic committees is considered a priority to attain the highest possible standards.

The events will differ to maximize the age groups and the interests of the athletes. Thus basketball will for example be played according to the FIBA 33 formula, with teams of three playing against each other on one half-court.

The most important particularity of the YOG is however the numerous mixed–gender team events in archery, athletics (medley relay), cycling (combined BMX-mountain bike-road event), equestrian, fencing, judo, modern pentathlon (relay), swimming (relay), table tennis, tennis and triathlon (relay).

The four 'team sport' tournaments (football, handball, hockey and volleyball) will consist of one national team per continent as well as a sixth team to represent either the host country or be proposed by the international federations for IOC approval. No NOC delegation may include more than 70 athletes in individual sports.

The YOG will also feature an extensive cultural and educational programme.

Keywords · Youth Olympic Games · International Olympic Committee · IOC · Jacques Rogge

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Laura Walden ()

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