POSTED: June 1st 2012
Buenos Aires 2018: Youth Olympic Games will boost grassroots sport
LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications
June 1 – Buenos Aires will be on the forefront next September when they host the second most important International Olympic Committee (IOC) session over a decade. The host city for the 2020 summer Olympics will be decided and a new IOC president will also be chosen to lead the Olympic Movement.
Argentina is looking to take advantage of their place in the sun to promote their sports system and recently launched a bid for the summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in 2018. Buenos Aires lost their bid for the summer Games in 1997 in the race against Athens, who won, Rome, Cape Town, and Stockholm.
IOC member Gerardo Werthein met with the press at SportAccord and talked about the long history of the country in the Olympic Movement. He said, “Argentina was one of 13 countries that founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In fact José Benjamín Zubiaur was one of the founders and Argentina has been very active over the years.
“I had the chance to become an IOC member last year and I have run the NOC since 2009. When I arrived there we had a lot of spirit but very little cash. We needed to raise the funding for sport to change the trend as we have been declining for many years.
“So we decided to sign a law which took 1% of the total income of the cellular companies would come to the NOC. This passed in Congress so my job is to look after the athletes so this is where the money is destined for their development. Argentina is a country where the athletes are very highly regarded.”
In 2009 the budget was $300,000 but they dramatically turned it around to $40 million dollars giving a huge infusion to the entire sports movement.
This has allowed for them to build new venues and concentrate more on the educational values of sport and Olympics and they took it to the local Governors to add it into the school curricula.
Werthein added, “There is also a very strong Olympic Academy in Argentina too and fortunately the graduates volunteer to help. Today there is about five provinces in Argentina who were already in their program and two of them incorporated the change from a secretary of sports to a minister of sports. And they added Olympism as an official part of the school curricula.”
He also noted that the new focus on the youth and sport at a grassroots level was exactly what fueled the passion for a YOG bid. They have bid for the Olympic Games in the past but he felt like it was the time to foster the youth movement in the country and the YOG was a very inspirational event to do just that.
As the IOC members all gather next September for the session they will have a chance to experience firsthand Argentinian tourism, culture and cuisine and give the country a chance to show off its assets to host the YOG.
Buenos Aires is bidding against Colombia (Medellín), Great Britain (Glasgow), Mexico (Guadalajara), Netherlands (Rotterdam) and Poland (Poznań).
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