The Youth Olympic Games are the ultimate multi-sports event for young athletes, but they are more than just competing and performing. They are about learning important skills, connecting to other cultures and celebrating the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect.
The Youth Olympic Games are essentially about competing, learning and sharing. The mission of the YOG is to shape and influence the athletes and other young participants, to prepare them to become ambassadors of Olympism, of sport and of a healthy lifestyle so they can take on an active role in their community.
The YOG are for the world's young athletes aged from 15 to 18. Like the Olympic Games, they are held every four years, and are held in the same year as the OG with the Summer YOG taking place the same year as the Olympic Winter Games and vice-versa.
The Summer YOG Nanjing 2014 gathered almost 3,800 young athletes, whereas the OG London 2012 welcomed more than 10,500 athletes.
The Summer and Winter YOG last 12 and 10 days respectively, while the OG may last up to 16 days.
The sports programme is based on that of the Olympic Games, with 28 sports for the Summer YOG and seven for the Winter YOG. However, the events are different, adapting to the age range and interests of the younger athletes. The YOG also include Learn & Share activities (known previously as Culture and Education Programme (CEP)).
The YOG were created at the initiative of the former President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge. His idea was approved unanimously by the IOC members at their Session in July 2007 In Guatemala City. The 1st Summer YOG were held in Singapore, in August 2010. The 1st Winter YOG were held in Innsbruck, in January 2012.
The objective of the YOG is to encourage young people around the world to practise sport; raise awareness of and encourage them to adopt the values of Olympism; and disseminate the message of the Olympic Movement around them.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) contributes to the financing of the YOG. It covers the costs of transport and accommodation for the athletes and team officials in the Olympic Village as well as for representatives from the International Sports Federations (IFs) and IOC representatives in hotels. It also finances the TV production.
The Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee (YOCOG) shall be responsible for the planning, organising and staging of the YOG.
On the other hand, the host city is responsible for the improvements to be made to sports and non-sports facilities and venues, where applicable.
The young athletes must be 15, 16, 17 or 18 years old on 31 December in the year of the Games. The age groups for the events in which they compete are defined in collaboration with the International Sports Federations (IFs) concerned.
Dakar 2026 age requirements (15-18) shall remain the same even though the event has been postponed.
The qualification of youth athletes is prepared in collaboration with the International Federations (IFs).
For each discipline, world and continental junior championships as well as world junior rankings and qualifying events allow the athletes to qualify for the YOG.
If a young athlete is interested in taking part in the YOG, he/she must contact his/her National Olympic Committee (NOC), which will inform him/her of the qualification criteria. The NOC is responsible for managing its delegation during the YOG.
There are around 4'000 athletes for the Summer YOG from all of the NOCs, and about 1'780 athletes from 79 NOCs for the Winter YOG.
The fourth edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games will take place in Dakar, Senegal in 2026. The IOC members took this decision unanimously by a show of hands at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires in October 2018. In a decision approved during the 136th Session of the IOC on 17 July 2020, Senegal and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) mutually agreed to postpone the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Dakar from 2022 to 2026 because of the COVID-19.
In January 2020, the 135th IOC Session held in Lausanne voted to elect the Province of Gangwon as host of the 4th Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2024.
The YOG are characterised primarily by their “YOG DNA” label, which defines the spirit and identity of the YOG. It is also the official trademark of the YOG, through which they distinguish themselves from the Olympic Games, while keeping the symbol of the Olympic rings.
From a sports point of view, the YOG are an “ideas laboratory” for the International Sports Federations (IFs).
Through the YOG, the IFs can innovate in their sport by proposing new events (for example, mixed or international teams, or a competition linking BMX and mountain biking). Sports not on the programme also have the opportunity to be presented in the framework of the “Sports Lab” (for example, skateboarding in Nanjing). Click here to learn more on the sports programme.
The YOG also distinguish themselves through the activities of the “Compete, Learn and Share” programme. All the YOG participants are offered events through interactive workshops and forums based on five themes: Olympism, Skills Development, the Benefits of Sport and Healthy Lifestyles, Social Responsibility and Expression.
This programme is a source of inspiration for all the participants, and encourages young people in their role as ambassadors of sport and Olympism within their communities.
Furthermore, one thing that makes the YOG stand out is its participants. As well as athletes, other figures are equally important. These are:
In addition to the replacement of mixed NOC events with equivalent events of the same format composed of teams of athletes from the same NOCs, the IOC Executive Board established the following event changes:
There were 32 sports on the programme of the Summer YOG in 2018, and there were 8 on the programme of the Winter YOG in 2020 with mountaineering making its debut. The number and format of the events are specific to the YOG, to match the age groups and interests of the athletes.
For Lausanne 2020, a new sport was making its debut: ski mountaineering. It joined the seven other sports already on the programme of the previous YOG. In Lausanne individual events and sprints for boys and girls as well as a mixed relay events were contested.
Lean more :
The IOC selects Olympians as ambassadors for each edition of the YOG to help mobilise and inspire young people encouraging them to get active and practise a sports activity.
Important figures in sport such as Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Yelena Isinbaeva, Michelle Wie and Yao Ming have supported previous editions.
Not to be mistaken with the Young Ambassador Programme for the Youth Olympique Games which aims to engage 30 young people aged between 18 and 28 and nominated by their National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to help promote the YOG in their regions and communities, support the athletes before and during the Games as well as during their participation in the Culture and Education Programme (CEP).
For each edition of the Youth Olympic Games, sporting stars of different nationalities are selected by their International Federations to spend time with the young athletes, answer their questions and share their experiences in the Youth Olympic Village, at competition and training venues and during a series of educational workshops and activities.
Launched at the occasion of Singapore 2010, this programme provides journalism students from all around the world or those who have recently started their journalism careers a cross-platform journalist-training programme and on-the-job experience during the YOG.
Developed as part of the Learn and Share activities , the training and assignments during Games time are driven by highly qualified and renowned professionals in the fields of broadcast and print journalism, social media and photography.
Sixteen young reporters, eight women and eight men from different countries, were chosen for the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lausanne 2020. They were selected from among the 35 young reporters who took part in the sports journalism training programme organised during the YOG 2018 in Buenos Aires. The Young Reporters started their mission together at the Main Press Centre in Lausanne, before splitting into three smaller teams of journalists at one of the main competition zones, namely Lausanne/Jura, the Alps and St Moritz.
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