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.
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. The YOG will take place from 19 January to 1 February 2024.
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 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:
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.
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