Masters of Ceremonies

With now less than one year to go until the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, we take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from past Opening Ceremonies of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG).

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Starting with a twist

The inaugural Youth Olympic Games began with a spectacular Opening Ceremony that was held on a floating stage in Marina Bay, with Singapore’s spectacular skyline as its backdrop. Adding to that view was one of the most distinctive cauldrons in Olympic history – a 32-metre tall lighthouse that was capped with a unique spiralling “vortex flame” that swirled rapidly within a specially-designed glass column.

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Record-breaking street party

Downtown Buenos Aires burst into life for the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 YOG, with the traditional curtain-raiser of the Games skipping the usual stadium or arena setting and instead bringing the celebrations to the streets of the Argentine capital. A record-breaking 215,000 people flocked to the Avenida 9 de Julio to experience the first-ever Olympic Opening Ceremony to be held in the streets of a city, setting the tone for YOG that saw a total of one million people attend events during the Games.

“Homecoming” party

The Opening Ceremony of the Winter YOG Lausanne 2020 celebrated the Swiss host city’s status as the Olympic Capital, featuring seven stories emphasising the Olympic spirit and the theme of “Home”. “For more than 100 years, Lausanne has been the home of the IOC. This is why for all Olympic friends Lausanne is also home,” said IOC President Thomas Bach during his speech. “Our wonderful Swiss hosts make us feel at home, right here in the Olympic Capital. This is why I say, ‘Dear athletes, welcome home.’”

Third time’s a charm

The inaugural Winter YOG in 2012 saw Innsbruck welcome the Olympic family for the third time, following the Olympic Winter Games in 1964 and 1976; and the Austrian city’s unique Olympic heritage was celebrated throughout the Opening Ceremony, most notably during the lighting of three Olympic cauldrons to mark each edition of the Games held in the Tyrolean capital.

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Youth in the spotlight

The Lillehammer 2016 Opening Ceremony saw young people take centre stage, with a 12-year-old Princess Ingrid following in the footsteps of her father, Crown Prince Haakon, by lighting the same Olympic cauldron that he had ahead of the Olympic Winter Games in 1994. Five young athletes – representing each of the competing continents – then joined IOC President Thomas Bach to deliver the opening address for the first time in Olympic history, further underlining the YOG’s goal of keeping athletes at their heart.


The Nanjing 2014 Opening Ceremony embraced youth culture like never before at the Olympic Games, with President Bach using his opening address to urge all of the 3,800 competing athletes to grab their smartphones and snap a selfie. “These are your Games. This is your moment,” he said. “Let us all capture it – so get your smartphones out and let’s set a record for selfies.” The hashtag #YOGselfie was soon making waves on social media, reaching over 400 million people in China in the first 24 hours alone.

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