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The IOC President, Thomas Bach, gave a very positive assessment of the second summer edition of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Nanjing when talking at the closing press conference today. The YOG close tonight after 12 days of exciting competition, and educational and cultural activities.
In line with the vision of the YOG to use existing venues, President Bach started by commending the organisers, “We have an organising committee that was not only an efficient one, but also a very sustainable one. I congratulate them on making excellent use of existing venues and facilities from the 2005 Chinese National Games and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.”
A popular addition to the Games has been the brand new Nanjing 2014 Sports Lab concept, where roller sports, skateboarding, sport climbing and wushu were showcased in one space attracting some 3,000 visitors per day. “We are very happy about the success of the ‘Sports Lab’, and we are already are thinking about its future and what role it can play in the Youth Olympic Games,” said President Bach.
Nanjing also witnessed the resounding success of new events such as 5-a-side hockey and an 8x100m relay in athletics; new sports – golf and rugby; and confirmation of the extraordinary appeal of the mixed team and mixed country events. As the IOC President affirmed, “These have been Youth Olympic Games of innovation.”
Social media played a unprecedented role in Nanjing to engage with the young athletes. The #YOGselfie campaign reached over 400 million people in the first 24 hours after the IOC President mentioned it at the Opening Ceremony. In China alone, 56 million people have posted #YOGselfie and 147 million #nanjing2014. Some 600,000 interactions were also registered via YOGGER, a key given to each participant to share contacts.
The athletes were also given the opportunity to take part in a number of fun and educational activities that will not only help them better understand important issues such as leading healthy lifestyles and the dangers of doping, but will also teach them about the meaning of the Olympic values and what it means to behave in a socially responsible manner. The Culture and Education Programme in Nanjing attracted a record number of 100,000 participations and aims to help those taking part in their future careers.
President Bach finally commended the seamless organisation and the efficiency of the Chinese hosts, and praised the volunteer programme, which will be one of the many strong legacies of these Games.