Lillehammer 2016: halfway through and going strong!
Yesterday, Wednesday 17 February, was exactly halfway through the Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games (YOG). The first four days were a success from all points of view, in terms of both entertainment and the level of general interest generated by this second edition of the Winter YOG. Here’s a brief look at what’s happened so far.
Thomas Lovelock for YIS/IOC
The eagerly awaited Second Winter Youth Olympic Games kicked off in Lillehammer on 12 February. A whole country was looking forward to the return of the Olympic spirit, exactly 22 years after the magnificent Winter Games in 1994. What a symbol for all Norwegians to see the Olympic flame return, at the Opening Ceremony in the legendary Lysgårdsbakkene Stadium.
Thomas Lovelock for YIS/IOC
Since that Ceremony, many things have happened successfully at all levels. The first of these is sport, with high-level competitions in the seven sports represented. New events have made their debut, such as cross-country cross, which combines speed and obstacles with spectacular results. Among the young “star” athletes of this first half of the Games, US skier River Radamus has earned himself three gold medals in three Alpine skiing events. If he wins his last event, he will make Winter YOG history by becoming the first athlete to win four gold medals. In all, 46 events have already been held.
Even if sport plays the dominant role at the YOG, it is far from being the only attraction. With the Sjoggfest, the Lillehammer 2016 organisers have struck gold. This festival of music, culture and cinema has attracted considerable attention to Lillehammer. For example, the public could enjoy the presence of international music star Aurora. And then Madcon and Nico & Vinz are keenly awaited during the second part of the Games.
This interest is reflected in the number of spectators, with more than 90,000 of them for the sports events, Sjoggfest and the Opening Ceremony. Of these, 10,000 young people from all over Norway have been invited to take part in a fantastic day at Lillehammer 2016. And a further 10,000 are expected in the coming days, for a truly remarkable programme.
Among the media, there has also been a high level of interest. In Norway, more than 600 articles have been published since the Opening Ceremony. Internationally, this figure has reached 2,000 articles. The television media have been doing their bit, too, with YOG coverage on more than 200 channels around the world. And this enthusiasm can also be seen on social media, with numerous discussions around the official competition hashtags, #iLoveYOG and #Lillehammer2016.
Laura Godenzi/IOC Young Reporters
The midway press conference yesterday, on 17 February, confirmed the feeling that expectations had been exceeded. Both the IOC and the Lillehammer 2016 organisers praised the success of this first half. The commitment of the 3,200 volunteers has no doubt played a part in this, with their smiles and enthusiasm spreading around all the Lillehammer Olympic venues. So it’s probably safe to say that this successful start will provide the impetus for an equally brilliant finish.
Jon Buckle for YIS/IOC