'This will be a big boost for Argentina'
As the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 draw to a close, Olympic champion Santiago Lange is among those who have hailed the positive impact that these Games will leave.
The Rio 2016 gold medallist, who has been attending the YOG as an Athlete Role Model, is adamant that the host city – and Argentina as whole – will feel the benefits of the Games for generations to come.
“Every venue I have been to has been full and this will be a big motivation for young people,” he said. “Fathers and mothers have been taking their children to see these athletes compete and for sure this will be a big boost for Argentina. We love sport, we are passionate about it and that is why we fill stadiums.”
The 57-year-old sailor, who also won bronze medals at the Olympic Games Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, also believes that the YOG will leave a lasting impression on the young athletes who have competed in Buenos Aires.
“These 4,000 athletes will leave with a little piece of Argentina in their hearts,” he said. “Even if they have lost and their memories of the competition are not the best, they have still lived an important part of their lives in our country and they will never forget that.”
In addition to the special memories that have been created in Buenos Aires for the athletes and the thousands of fans who have supported them, the YOG will leave a significant legacy in the south of the city, where the Games have been a catalyst for a major social and urban renovation project.
The newly-built Youth Olympic Village, where the young athletes have been staying during the Games, will soon be converted into affordable housing for more than 6,000 people, creating a new neighbourhood within the city.
The nearby Youth Olympic Park, which was home to 13 of the 32 sports on the YOG programme, will also provide an important legacy for high-level Argentinean sport after the YOG, as it will become the new headquarters for the country’s elite sports centre (CeNARD).
With these new facilities and the amazing atmosphere that the Games have created in Buenos Aires, IOC President Thomas Bach is, like Lange, in little doubt as to the benefits that the city will enjoy from the YOG.
“The Games will leave a great legacy for Argentina and Buenos Aires,” he said. “These Youth Olympic Games have united the country and made all Argentineans very proud; and they have every reason to be extremely proud. The Argentinean athletes have left a great legacy for sport within this country and will serve as role models for future generations thanks to the wonderful success they have achieved. These were truly the Youth Olympic Games of a new era. They were more urban, more female and more inclusive than any edition of the Olympic Games before – not only the Youth Games”.