Several YAs mentioned it as the highlight of the 25-28 March Young Ambassadors’ Seminar so far, confident that their National Olympic Committee (NOC)s’ athletes will embrace it in August, in the same way they have.
“It’s enjoyable, and if I can enjoy it, the rest of the team will be able to enjoy it”, said Cecilia Low of Singapore.
Bulgaria’s Damyan Dikov added: “I was expecting it to be impressive but it’s much more.”
The CEP is unique to the Youth Olympic Games and aims to educate young athletes about different cultures and on issues such as doping and nutrition.
During the first two days of the seminar, where the YAs are being prepared for their role during the Games, they visited the City Wall and attended cooking and relaxation classes at the Nanjing Secondary Vocational School of Tourism and Nutrition.
At the ancient landmark, they learnt to reproduce wall bricks, fly a kite and perform traditional activities like spinning a diabolo.
As the YAs have received the kites as a gift, Shamim Bridget Bangi of Uganda hopes to try flying hers again when she is back home.
And it is not just the kite that Bangi is taking back to Uganda. She talked about coming face-to-face with the 600-year-old wall.
“I have to tell [my friends] what they didn’t see but I saw. The story I’ll tell them is that the wall was really great and at least I saw something in China. It is real.”
Low agreed: “It’s a new experience because we don’t have that in Singapore. There’s no space to build a wall, and we’re not that old. Six hundred years ago there was no Singapore!”
Apart from learning how to make local dumplings, most YAs were keen on the massage workshop at the school during the second day, praising its usefulness in helping athletes relax.
One-hundred-and-four YAs from every continent are at the seminar in Nanjing, which kicked off with team-bonding games on the first day.
Dikov thinks they were very helpful in breaking the ice: “We didn’t know each other – well, not that we know each other a lot now – but it was a really good experience because every game was in different groups, and we have to do quizzes and stuff, and work together as a team. I really like the effort made by the organisers. It was crazy.”
The YAs also had the opportunity to check out the Youth Olympic Village and undergo media training.
Philippe Furrer, IOC Head of YOG Creative Services, explained to the YAs at the welcome presentation that their priority was to encourage athletes to participate in the CEP, and to inspire them to act and use sport as a catalyst for change.
“It’s all very well to have vision and speak nice words, but if there’s not action, what’s the use of it?
“It’s a lot of work, but through innovations, good partnerships and good ideas, you can deliver”, he noted.
“You are our messengers and you carry this brand.”