10 years on: The legacies of Singapore 2010

14 Aug 2020

Today marks the 10-year anniversary since the opening ceremony of the very first Youth Olympic Games Singapore 2010. Olympic.org highlights some of its most enduring legacies.

Strolling along the shoreline of Singapore’s Marina Bay, visitors can find several reminders of the city’s unique place in Olympic history.

In the shadows of the towering Singapore Flyer observation wheel – and set against the backdrop of the city’s impressive skyline – the Youth Olympic Park serves as a lasting memorial to the first-ever Youth Olympic Games (YOG), which were held in Singapore in August 2010.

The inaugural YOG were the first new Games to be launched by the International Olympic Committee in more than 80 years – since the introduction of the Olympic Winter Games in 1924 – and were established as an elite sporting event for young people from all over the world, inspiring and educating them in the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect.

Singapore had been named as the host city in February 2008 and, just two-and-a-half years later, welcomed 3,500 of the world’s finest young athletes to its shores for 12 days of high-level sport and fun educational activities.

During that time – and in the 10 years since the Youth Olympic flame was extinguished in Singapore – the YOG have left an indelible mark not only on the host city, but also on the sporting landscape as a whole. 


Lasting transformations

In March 2010, the Singapore Olympic Foundation (SOF) was established in order to uphold the legacy of the YOG within the host city through a series of educational, cultural and sport participation programmes for the local youth. Its aims include enabling young and talented Singaporean athletes to achieve their sporting goals and promoting a healthy sporting culture in Singapore through educational activities and programmes.

Since its establishment, thousands of young athletes have benefited from scholarships to help fund their burgeoning sporting careers. Among them is swimmer Joseph Schooling, who went on to win Singapore’s first-ever Olympic gold medal when he triumphed in the men’s 100m butterfly at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.


In addition, the SOF established the Singapore Youth Olympic Festival (SYOF) in 2011 to provide a platform for local youths to showcase their sporting talents. Now held annually to mark the anniversary of the YOG, the event – open to athletes aged 18 and below – has grown to include 13 sports, with 3,000 athletes competing in the 2019 edition.

Locals and visitors alike can also enjoy permanent reminders of the YOG around the city.

Marina Bay’s Youth Olympic Park, opened in April 2010, is Singapore’s first-ever “art park” and features installations created by local young people. These include a landscaped maze with a 4.5-metre high “mountain” at its centre, an interactive “hop-scotch” with tiles that light up when stepped on, and a photo exhibition displaying more than 3,000 images of the athletes who took part in the YOG.

Elsewhere, the Olympic rings adorn the tree-lined Olympic Walk that skirts the Marina Bay waterfront and features 205 trees representing each of the National Olympic Committees that competed at the 2010 YOG, while the city’s Esplanade MRT station is also decorated with a permanent mural consisting of more than 3,000 tiles handcrafted by the young athletes and volunteers who participated in the Games.

singapore YOG Getty Images

Leading the way

The YOG Singapore 2010 have also had an impact on the wider sporting landscape, with many of the innovations that were introduced at the YOG being adopted by other events, including the Olympic Games.

The action-packed 3x3 basketball format, for instance, made its international debut in Singapore and next year will be played at the Olympic Games for the first time in Tokyo. Similarly, Singapore 2010 saw the introduction of a range of mixed-gender team events in sports such as triathlon, swimming, archery and fencing, adding a new dimension to the competitions. These mixed formats, which help foster gender equality within sport, have since been adopted at many other events, with the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 set to feature a variety of new mixed events including a 4x400m relay in athletics, a 4x100m relay in swimming, team events in judo and archery, a triathlon relay, mixed doubles table tennis and three team competitions in shooting.

This evolution of the Olympic programme is testament to the YOG’s status as an incubator for sporting innovations and yet another powerful legacy of Singapore 2010.

singapore YOG Getty Images

Athlete role models

Perhaps the greatest legacy of the YOG Singapore 2010, however, is the athletes themselves.

Many of those who competed in Singapore have been able to use the YOG as a springboard to launch their careers on the international stage, with more than 190 of those who competed in 2010 going on to compete at the Olympic Games London 2012 just two years later, winning an impressive 25 Olympic medals between them, including eight gold, eight silver and nine bronze.

Among the highlights were the performances of five-time YOG medallist Chad le Clos, from South Africa, who upset the odds to beat the legendary Michael Phelps in the 200m butterfly by just 0.05 seconds, and Great Britain’s YOG champion Jade Jones, who won the host nation’s first-ever Olympic taekwondo gold medal.

singapore YOG Chad le Cos of South Africa and Michael Phelps of the United States compete in the Men's 100m Butterfly Final of the London 2012 Olympic Games

Since then, many more stars of Singapore 2010 have shone on the global stage, with the likes of Robeisy Ramirez (Cuba, boxing), Qiu Bo (China, diving), Jessica Fox (Australia, canoe-kayak), Alex Massialas (USA, fencing) and Koki Niwa (Japan, table tennis) among those to have established themselves as leading lights in their sports.

And even those athletes whose careers did not progress to the Olympic stage beyond Singapore have had an impact too. Among those is show jumper Dalma Malhas, who made headlines in Singapore by becoming the first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in an Olympic event. After claiming the bronze medal in the individual jumping discipline, Malhas paved the way for fellow female athletes Wojdan Shaherkani and Sarah Attar to compete for Saudi Arabia at the Olympic Games London 2012.


Jade Jones used her experience in Singapore to continue to inspire the next generation of athletes by becoming an Athlete Role Model (ARM) in Buenos Aires 2018. Many other ARMs were able to engage and share their YOG experiences with the athletes in the Youth Olympic Village, during training and at competition venues, and through educational activities and workshops. These activities focus on various topics, such as Olympic Solidarity, skills development, career management, injury prevention and integrity.

IOC News YOG Singapore 2010 Legacy
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