To celebrate the second United Nations World Creativity and Innovation Day on 21 April, we highlight five ways in which the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Buenos Aires 2018 put innovation and evolution at their heart in Argentina last October, further enhancing the Games’ reputation for pioneering new sports and ideas.
The headline innovation in the Argentinian capital was the historic decision to make the YOG Buenos Aires 2018 the first-ever gender-equal Olympic Games – among almost 4,000 young athletes across 32 sports. “This is an excellent step forward,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “We have made history – to have equal numbers of women and men competing for the first time at the Olympic Games or Youth Olympic Games. As well as being another big step forward in the implementation of Olympic Agenda 2020, this is a great milestone for women’s sport and for the Olympic Movement as a whole.”
In keeping with YOG tradition, Buenos Aires 2018 welcomed new sports as well as new disciplines on the programme. Dance sport, karate, roller speed and sport climbing all made their Olympic debuts, while BMX freestyle, kiteboarding, beach handball, futsal and acrobatic gymnastics featured for the first time. Three new and exciting demonstration sports – karting, polo and squash – were also added, with a view to potential inclusion in future editions of the YOG.
The first day of the YOG in Argentina set the innovative tone that followed throughout the Games, with a new-look Opening Ceremony. The event moved away from the traditional and formal setting of a sports stadium, and was staged for the first time in modern Olympic history on a public street – Buenos Aires’ main boulevard, the Avenida 9 de Julio. The carnival-style celebration was centred around the city’s world-famous Obelisk. Nearly 2,000 people worked to deliver the Opening Ceremony, while 215,000 people watched the spectacle. The climax of the Ceremony saw the Youth Olympic flame passed to Argentinian sporting icons Paula Pareto and Santiago Lange, who lit the cauldron, followed by a spectacular firework display.
The goal of making the YOG as accessible as possible to the public was again in evidence when the Organising Committee decided to introduce a free-of-charge electronic system to gain entry to the four parks in Buenos Aires, as well as the city’s standalone venues such as the San Isidro Sailing Club and Club Atlético de San Isidro. The digital bracelet was available via online applications, and could be collected at a series of delivery points throughout the city. It also granted access to the YOG’s festivals and 1,200 cultural and sporting activities. The free-entry ticketing model will be repeated at the Winter YOG Lausanne 2020.
Digital coverage of the YOG was more comprehensive than ever before. For the first time, the Olympic Channel offered live coverage of the Games, as well as on-demand video content. The Channel broadcast 550 hours of live streaming from Buenos Aires, including a daily live show from the Youth Olympic Village. In addition, the YOG saw the introduction of the “Game Changers” initiative, in which athletes were encouraged to share their experiences in Buenos Aires through social media platforms. Based around workshops with digital experts from the Olympic Channel and Olympic Broadcasting Services, as well as interaction with influencers, athletes were taught how to create dynamic and engaging content. The centre of the programme was the Game Changers Hub in the Youth Olympic Village, while athletes were also given access to a bespoke digital sticker pack on Instagram and Snapchat to help them celebrate their YOG achievements.