Youth Olympic legacy lives on in Nanjing

Three years have passed since the second edition of the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, and the city continues to set the example as one of the nation’s sportiest cities; attracting international sport events, continuously striving to improve public health and activity, and using the YOG event model as an example for other events nationwide.

Nanjing 2014 IOC/Ian Jones
Contributing to Nanjing’s mission to be a “world sport city”, they have used the infrastructure and event knowledge gained from the Youth Olympic Games to successfully win bids to host the Badminton World Championships in 2018 and the group competitions of the FIBA World Cup in 2019. In addition, the International Roller Sports Federation has named the city “World Capital of Roller Sports” as the sport was showcased at the YOG Sports Lab and last year Nanjing held the World Roller Speed Skating Championships 2016. This sport has become hugely popular as a result of the YOG, with 30 clubs springing up across the city and 240,000 roller enthusiasts enjoying the sport.

In terms of construction legacy, the Youth Olympic Sports Park, which was built to host hockey, rugby, beach volleyball and BMX, continues to be used as a national base for the training and education of talented young athletes. The Nanjing Olympic Museum has been fully functioning since its launch at the YOG, and has welcomed over 150,000 visitors through its doors.

Nanjing 2014 IOC/Ubald Rutor

The YOG was used by Nanjing as a catalyst to accelerate existing projects, such as a new metro line, and improve public transport. According to recent figures by the Nanjing municipality, the share of public transport has increased more than 5 per cent since the YOG, and 62.7 per cent of buses now use clean and new energy to power them. Furthermore, the city has dropped from being the sixth most congested city in China, to 27th, and the public bicycles that were introduced in 2010 have seen usage increase since the YOG from 800 to over 70,000 in 2016.

The local government in Nanjing has strived to leverage on the dynamics of the Youth Olympic Games to boost public participation in physical activity and sports. For example, since August 2014, Nanjing has organised almost 4,000 mass-fitness projects and has built close to 1,000 kilometres of running trails around the city. In schools, sport now plays a much stronger role: 45 sport-based activities have been introduced into 210 primary schools since 2014 under the “Sunshine School Sport” project; and measures are also in place to fight the increase in youth obesity, including nutritional education and supporting information books in Nanjing schools. 
The Youth Olympic Games has driven a real shift in Nanjing in how people enjoy sport, from the facilities and new clubs to the extensive work underway in schools that is inspiring young children to enjoy and be active in sport. Li Lingwei Interim Chair Buenos Aires 2018 YOG Coordination Commission

Some 26,302 social sports instructors are now in place to provide free daily guidance to the public at thousands of fitness stations throughout the city; while access to public sports venues has been increased, with longer opening hours and cheaper access. In addition, in the two years after the YOG, 39 new sports clubs have been established in a variety of sports, including those such as roller sports and climbing that did not previously enjoy great recognition before the Youth Olympic Games. 

The Nanjing 2014 YOG model has also inspired other events in China, for example, 1,000 kilometres north of Nanjing, the city of Tianjin is using elements of Nanjing’s organisational strategies in the production of China’s 13th National Games, which will take place in August 2017. 

Nanjing 2014 IOC/XI Yang

Chinese badminton world champion and Interim Chair of the forthcoming Buenos Aires 2018 YOG Coordination Commission Li Lingwei said, “The Youth Olympic Games has driven a real shift in Nanjing in how people enjoy sport, from the facilities and new clubs to the extensive work underway in schools that is inspiring young children to enjoy and be active in sport. They are making their mission of being a ‘world sport city’ a reality. I am inspired by what they achieved and I know Buenos Aires 2018 will build upon this impressive legacy.” 

Wu Zhiqiang was the third winner of the men’s 66kg judo competition at Nanjing 2014. Speaking of the Youth Olympic Games, he still has a deep memory and feeling for it. He said, “[The] YOG has tempered my will and left me a wonderful memory. I will always bear the slogan of ‘Share the Games, Share our Dreams’ in my mind. The spirit of the YOG will always inspire me to fight ahead.” After the YOG, Wu Zhiqiang won the title of national athlete and became the champion of men’s judo at the first National Youth Games of China, as well as the national championship in the Men’s 66kg competition.

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