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The Olympics are back in China!





The Olympic Games are coming back to China sooner then anyone thought. Next  will see the Summer Youth Olympic Games being held in Nanjing.


An estimated 204 nations and 3,600 athletes will be participating in the event, which will be held in August 2014. There will be 184 competitions from 28 different sporting events.


   The Youth Olympic Games, or YOG for short, was the brainchild of Johann Rosenzopf from Austria back in 1998.  The games were created by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The initial intention was to raise awareness of the growing problem of obesity amongst young people. The IOC had also come to believe that sports in schools around the world were being replaced with more science and technology classes.


In 2007, Jacques Rogge, IOC president announced plans for the Youth Olympic Games at the 119th IOC session in Guatemala.  The IOC stated that the YOG, would bring together the world’s best young athletes, show them what it meant to be an Olympians, and educate and debate Olympic values.


             After much competition between several competing countries, Singapore was selected to host the first YOG in 2010. Not surprisingly China did quite well, she came first in the medals table taking a total of 66 medals, 37 of them being gold. Nanjing, along with other cities around the world, sought to host the games in 2014.  The games were subsequently awarded to the picturesque former Chinese capital in 2012 .


The athletes who participant in the YOG are split into three age groups: 14-15 years, 16-17 years, and 17-18 years. Participants’ ages are determined by how old they are by the 31st of December of the year they are competing in the YOG.


The IOC wanted the games to be as fair as possible to all participating countries, as poorer nations don’t have the money or the facilities to compete against richer countries. The IOC initiated the idea of “Universality places”. This means that a certain number of spots in each event are kept open for those athletes that hail from less well off nations. In doing this each nation is guaranteed to be able to send four athletes to the games.  For tournament or team games each nation is allowed to send two teams: boys and girls. Nations can only bring a maximum of 70 athletes’ in total.


The sports that are played at the games are the same as those which take place during the normal Olympics. However, there are some changes in the rules of certain games. Basketball uses the FIBA 33 rule, whereby the game is played 3 on 3, using only half the court and each period is only five minutes long. The winners are the team that scores 33 points first. Some games have been left out altogether. This includes synchronised swimming, water polo, and track cycling. Games that have been given the green light are sailing and the pentathlon.


Two of the big focuses of these games are education and culture. The idea is to engage young adults in cooperating with each other and learning about their respective cultural backgrounds. The culture and education programmes (CEP) will also reach out to young people who are living in the host cities of the games. The programmes range from health and fitness to the environment and helping young people map out potential career paths in sports and other areas.


Beyond these education schemes it is hoped that individuals and nations will come together to work on common interests. Another aspect of the games is mixed gender competitions. The idea is to mix genders and different nations so that they can compete against each other and with each other. This will happen in games such as tennis, triathlon relays, fencing, table tennis, archery and mixed swimming relays.


By John Doyle

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