Today marks 500 days to go to the Opening Ceremony of Buenos Aires 2018, the third summer edition of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG), which will kick off on 6 October next year.
We caught up with some of the key members of the team organising the next YOG to talk about how the preparations are going: Buenos Aires 2018 Chairman Gerardo Werthein and CEO Leandro Larrosa and the Minister of Modernisation, Innovation and Technology, Andy Freire, who is supporting the organisation.
What needs to be accomplished in the next 500 days?
Gerardo: We aim to accomplish all our goals not only by celebrating the best Youth Olympic Games by young people for young people; for the neighbourhood; for Buenos Aires; for Argentina and for the world; but also by working on creating a joyful atmosphere before the Games, around the city through the promotion of the Olympic values and offering recreational, educational, cultural and sports activities.
There are 500 days left and we are looking forward to this big challenge in order to bring sport, culture and education to the community and build a lasting legacy that will benefit society as a whole.
How are the preparations going?
Leandro: We are getting closer to Buenos Aires 2018 and looking forward to the celebration of the Games. The Venue Master plan of Buenos Aires 2018 has been developed and the infrastructure construction is evolving progressively. By the end of 2017 we are planning to have the first buildings ready.
As regards the Youth Olympic Village (YOV), we are constructing 31 buildings and 1,200 apartments that will host around 7,000 people during the Games, including 3,900 athletes. The construction will be finished by 2018. After the Games, the houses will become affordable housing for the local community. In addition, venues and existing infrastructure will be reconditioned for competitions and training sessions.
One of your missions is to bring sport to the people of Buenos Aires – how are you achieving this?
Gerardo: We strongly believe in our mission and in the importance of reaching and engaging with the community around the world. The aim of Buenos Aires 2018 is to leave a real legacy before, during and after the celebration of the Games, bringing sport to people and organising activities that promote culture and education, as well as strengthening urban development through infrastructure projects in the city.
Today we have around 300,000 people engaged in the community projects so far, and this is just the beginning. During the year 2017 we have upcoming events that will create new opportunities to be close to the youth, their families and the community as a whole.
On 1 July we will celebrate Olympic Day with a big event that will promote sport, culture, education and the Olympic values through sport initiation activities organised by 40 National Federations that will invite the community to practise the different sports. In line with the Buenos Aires 2018 spirit, there will be artistic, sustainable and educational proposals led by sponsors and other Buenos Aires 2018 stakeholders.
This Olympic Day will also be promoted in the different provinces, throughout the year in an “Active Day”, together with the Argentine Olympic Committee (AOC) and the National Federations to promote sport around the country, no matter the age, the gender or the athletic ability.
To make our goals possible, we also developed a wide programme of activities that will leave a legacy for young people: theatre plays for kids that will spread the Olympic values in schools; 10 Olympic flags that will tour around different schools simultaneously, staying one week in each of them; and the creation of mosaic tile murals that will stay in schools, and bigger ones that will be painted around the city by well-known artists inspired by Argentinian Olympic athletes.
Aiming to spread the Olympic values through a friendly and entertaining way, we will also organise sports meetings in the schools of Buenos Aires City, focusing on introducing young people to sport and encouraging them to practise it.
How will you build awareness of the YOG in the lead-up to the Games?
Gerardo: To bring sport, culture and education to young people, we will encourage the development of young athletes and the community through the Olympic values, engage with young people around the world interactively, and build a lasting legacy that will benefit society as a whole.
A great opportunity to enjoy and promote the Olympic spirit around the country will be the celebration of the Active Day as well as the Torch Tour. These events will let us reach the different provinces of Argentina and will bring sport, culture, education and the Olympic values to their people.
Our social media play a very important role in reaching out to the youth. We are taking full advantage of the community engagement with the digital era, and today our social networks are our main communication channels that help us spread all our programmes. At the same time, we offer fun, innovative and interactive content.
We want our communications, as well as our whole Games, to be not only the best FOR young people, but also and especially BY young people. Meaning we want our main audience to also be the creators of Buenos Aires 2018-related messages, giving us new content and perspectives.
We want to listen and talk to them, shaping #BuenosAires2018 together.
Locally, the Youth Olympic Village and the different venues will be immersed in four Parks, each of them with its own visual concept and identity: Urban Park, Green Park, Techno Park and Youth Olympic Park. These Parks will merge and personify the spirit of the Youth Olympic Games (Compete, Learn and Share) and Buenos Aires 2018 Celebrates. The constant variety of activities that will be offered by each Park integrated with the sports competitions will be aimed at different targets, but will also develop a multiplying effect that will spread the spirit of Buenos Aires 2018 Celebrates to every participant.
What will be unique about Buenos Aires 2018?
Andy: The Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 will bring together the best young athletes around the world between 15 and 18 years old. The Games will have an innovative and modern focus – they are a great laboratory to try out new concepts and new sports.
Four sports were added to Buenos Aires 2018 programme: dancesport (breaking), karate, roller sports and sport climbing. All of them will bring great value in terms of youth engagement and innovation to the Youth Olympic Games as they all have a wide audience reach among youth that will engage and unify a large number of people.
New disciplines were also included in existing sports: futsal, beach handball, BMX freestyle and kiteboarding. Also, Buenos Aires 2018 will be the first edition of an Olympic event that will have the same amount of participants for both women and men, contributing to gender equality.
What do you see as the legacy of Buenos Aires 2018?
Andy: Buenos Aires 2018 will act as a catalyst for social and urban development in the city of Buenos Aires. The aim is to leave a real legacy before, during and after the celebration of the Games, bringing sport to people and organising activities based on Olympism and its values that promote culture and education, as well as strengthening urban development through infrastructure projects in the city.
The main focus will be on the Southern area of the city, where the Youth Olympic Village and the venues for more than half of the sports competitions will be. This infrastructure plan of the YOV was developed by the Ministry of Urban Development and Transportation and the Buenos Aires Government.
Sum up in three words Buenos Aires 2018
Gerardo: Young, creative, entertaining
Leandro: Inclusive, creative, youngAndy: Innovative, sustainable, fun