The second Summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG) came to a spectacular close today in Nanjing, China, with a dramatic Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Sports Centre Stadium. It marked the end of 12 days of high-level sporting competition and cultural and educational activities enjoyed by thousands of spectators and the 3,800 participating athletes.
After the hugely successful debut of 3x3 basketball at the first edition of the Summer YOG in Singapore in 2010, other new formats have made a popular introduction at Nanjing, including hockey 5s, the 8x100m relay in an urban venue in athletics, and a basketball skills contest. In addition, rugby and golf made their first Olympic appearance ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, and more International Federations rolled out mixed-country and mixed-team competitions.
Talking at his closing press conference earlier in the day, IOC President Thomas Bach said, “These have been the Youth Olympic Games of innovation.”
For the second edition of the Summer YOG, the IOC introduced the Nanjing 2014 Sports Lab, where 3,000 visitors came daily to watch and try the showcased sports of roller sports, skateboarding, sport climbing and wushu; and this concept is already being considered for future Youth Olympic Games.
After the IOC President urged all the young athletes at the Opening Ceremony to share their YOG experience as a way of inspiring their communities back home to become more active, he concluded the Games tonight by asking them to extend the hand of friendship once again. “In the Olympic spirit, greet and thank the person next to you and take their picture,” he encouraged the audience at the Closing Ceremony. “Share this token of friendship with the world and post it with the hashtag Nanjing 2014.”
Social media played an unprecedented role in Nanjing in terms of getting the athletes to engage with each other and their peers. The #YOGselfie campaign reached over 400 million people in the first 24 hours after the IOC President mentioned it at the opening of the Games. In China alone, 56 million people have posted using the #YOGselfie hashtag, and 147 million have posted to #nanjing2014. Some 600,000 interactions were also registered via YOGGER, a small device similar to a USB flash drive given to each participant that allowed them to effortlessly exchange personal information and become instant friends.
Another unique element of YOG, the Culture and Education Programme, was significantly enhanced for this edition. A total of 104 Young Ambassadors were chosen to support the delegations; 38 Athlete Role Models shared their experiences and advice; and 35 Young Reporters provided coverage of the Games. The activities on offer not only helped the participants to better understand important issues such as leading healthy lifestyles and the dangers of doping, but also taught them about the meaning of the Olympic values and what it means to behave in a socially responsible manner. These activities, aimed at helping athletes in their future lives and careers, attracted a record number of 100,000 participations.
After praising the 18,000 dedicated volunteers, who will be one of the many strong social legacies of these Games, President Bach commended the seamless organisation and efficiency of the Chinese hosts, who used many existing world-class venues and facilities from the 2005 Chinese National Games and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
“The organisation of these Games was perfectly flawless. I would like to thank all our Chinese hosts. With your already world-famous efficiency and with your overwhelming friendliness you have made all of us feel at home here in Nanjing, in this great ancient city, in this modern and dynamic city of Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province.” President Bach said.
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