In Singapore, we met Innsbruck 2012 CEO Peter Bayer and asked him how he saw the first Youth Olympic Games and what Innsbruck can learn from the organisation of the YOG.
Gernot Bachler: Do you think the first Youth Olympic Games in Singapore were a success?
Peter Bayer: Yes absolutely. The young participants came from around the world to share this special and unique spirit only Olympic Games have. They learned life lessons, made new friends and produced fantastic sports competitions. All of this created an incredible atmosphere, and the first ever Youth Olympic Games in the history of the Olympic Movement have definitely been a success.
GB: Do you think Youth Olympic Games are a good idea? How did the Games in Singapore match your expectations?
PB: It was great to be part of this new and inspiring movement inside the Olympic family – seeing the enthusiasm of young people from all around the world, celebrating in the spirit of friendship, respect and excellence, is a great initiative. Singapore did a great job in putting on these inaugural YOG.
GB: What can Innsbruck 2012 learn from the organisation of the Games in Singapore?
PB: The Organising Committee in Singapore definitely did a great job in all areas – be it logistics, the Culture and Education Programme (CEP), the ceremonies, the sports competitions, or the set-up of the Youth Olympic Village: the whole event was very well organised and, if there were minor problems, they were immediately addressed. Coming to Singapore and having the chance to observe everything was a great experience for the Innsbruck 2012 delegation, and we returned home with many unforgettable impressions.
As the Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck will be Winter Games, we will definitely operate on a different level. Nevertheless, Innsbruck has a very huge Olympic heritage, and, with YOG 2012, we are now able to build a bridge from our Olympic tradition to the future. With innovative ideas and the knowhow of our partners (local federations, venue owners, etc.) we will strive for a very well-organised sporting and cultural festival, which will inspire young people all around the world.
GB: How much will you rely on the experiences of the athletes in preparation for Innsbruck?
PB: The input of the athletes is of course very important for us. Besides observing all the sports and CEP venues and having a lot of meetings with the Singapore Organising Committee, we also used our journey to Singapore to talk to the athletes. We have a lot of input and we will definitely integrate this in our preparations. Furthermore, we would like to organise workshops where the athletes can give us additional input. So, as much as we can and the athletes allow us to, we will definitely integrate them in the preparations for Innsbruck 2012.
GB: What will be some differences?
PB: Regarding differences, we have to say that Olympic Winter Games are usually about one- third the size of Summer Games. Innsbruck 2012 will host 1,058 athletes instead of 3,600 and about 70 nations instead of 205. When it comes to operations, one of Innsbruck’s big advantages is the size of the city. As we are a lot smaller than Singapore, everything is within 10 minutes, the Youth Olympic Village is in the middle of Innsbruck city, and Seefeld and Kühtai are only 40 minutes away.
Furthermore, most of the people in Innsbruck/Tyrol/Austria are big sports enthusiasts. The Austrian people enjoy participating in and watching sport and we are therefore looking forward to celebrating the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games together with them.
GB: Will you host an event similar to the Culture and Education Programme?
PB: The CEP was a totally new experience for all members of the Olympic family. Observing the different projects and initiatives of the CEP was therefore very interesting and important for us – and what we saw makes us very happy. All the participants spoke very positively about the new mix of sport and culture. With the IOC and Singapore, we will now intensively discuss the overall outcome of the CEP. Together with our athletes, who should take part in the planning, the CEP will be adapted and continued.
GB: How good are the preparations for the Winter Games in Innsbruck? What problems do you expect?
PB: The preparations are going very well. When the IOC Coordination Commission, under the guidance of Gian Franco Kasper, visited Innsbruck the last time (June 2010) they were very happy with our progress. We are now in the operational planning phase and, with a great young organising team, we are sure that the capital in the heart of the Alps is capable of organising a unique sporting and cultural festival, which will inspire young people around the whole as well as the local population.