YOG at SportAccord: a matter of connecting
What’s the potential of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) for a 17-year-old American swimming champion, world champion in the 100-metre freestyle event? The answer was provided by Samantha Tucker in Denver at the SportAccord podium.
“For me it is the value of unity. It’s also the possibility to connect with people, to make friends. And of course also the possibility to compete on the highest level, if possible even against boys as this might be possible at the YOG”. Like Samantha, Erik Kaiser, former ice skating champion, underlined the importance of “connecting”: “It’s great that the YOG offer a platform for non-athletes to connect with young people all over the world.”
The eagerness of young people to connect is also reflected in an in-depth study carried out by the advertising company UNITED on behalf of the IOC. “We can characterise the “youth” as a generation going through a “we”-volution. Never before has it been so important for 12-19-year-old boys and girls to connect with other teenagers close to their lifestyle. A 14-year-old hip-hop fan in Tokyo now has more in common with a 14-year-old hip-hop fan in New York, than with most of his classmates at school”, explained Daniel Wadia, who presented on behalf of UNITED the most important youth trends to the SportAccord panel.
Connecting with top athletes
To allow this connection to gain an additional level at the first Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010, the participation of top elite athletes will be essential. “We have to play a major role and are most willing to spend these 12 days in Singapore to talk with the young athletes about our ideas, dreams and how we dealt with crucial issues such as doping”, testified former 200m track and field champion Frank Fredericks in his capacity as Chairman of the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission. “Singapore will welcome the world and offer an ideal platform to connect,” concluded IOC member Ser Miang Ng, Chairman of the Singapore Organising Committee, during the panel discussion.