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Bidding for and Hosting the Youth Olympic Games – Organiser from Singapore Shared Experience at IOC Conference

What does it take to bid for and ultimately host the Olympic Games or Youth Olympic Games (YOG)? That was what some 100 representatives from 25 cities and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) had gathered in Lausanne last week to find out.

At the Bidding for the Games Conference organised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Francis Chong, who was the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Singapore Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee, shared his experience in bidding for and hosting the YOG.

Bidding for the Games ConferenceThe YOG was created by the IOC to inspire young people around the world to take up sports, and adopt and live by the Olympic values. Singapore had the privilege to host the first YOG in August 2010, which saw 3,530 athletes, between 14 and 18 years of age, from 205 NOCs taking part in high-level sporting competitions and in a Culture and Education Programme.

Francis was grateful to have had the opportunity to share his experience, as the YOG was a relatively new event. “It’s interesting to contrast our YOG elements with those of the Olympic Games,” he said. For example, while others highlighted infrastructural changes as catalysing change, Francis focused on how the YOG created opportunities for challenging mindsets about youth and expanding the imagination.

The responses to Singapore 2010 were positive. “Some of the delegates from cities interested in the YOG came up to me and said that the emphasis on Respect for youth resonated with them.” One delegate even invited Francis to visit her city to share how Singapore conceived and implemented our Games.

NTU

The YOG organising committee saw youth as people with ideas of their own, individuals bursting with aspirations, imagination and energy that could inspire others.
In September 2008, Francis facilitated a session for a group of students from the School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, who came together to brainstorm ideas for the opening ceremony as part of their course work.

The first of its kind, the Conference from 1 to 2 November, saw participation from 13 cities that were interested in the Olympic Games, and 12 which were keen to host a YOG. The prospective YOG hosts included Argentina’s Buenos Aires, Columbia’s Medellin, UK’s Glasgow and US’ North Carolina.

The delegates also heard from London 2012′s Sebastian Coe, Sochi 2014′s Dmitry Chernyshenko and Rio 2016′s Carlos Nuzman on the visions for the Games. They also learned about the bidding process, the planning for and staging of the Games, the importance of building partnerships, the potential benefits that can be gained from bidding, as well as the various aspects of the Olympic legacy.

IOC President Jacques Rogge who opened the conference said, “Amassing the necessary knowledge and expertise to launch a successful bid is crucial…The process of acquiring this knowledge must start long before a city eventually decides to bid for the right to host the Games.”

Francis was touched by the delegates’ and organisers’ dedication in wanting to not just deliver a successful event, but also to use it as an agent for positive change. “A speaker from Barcelona 92 said he’s worked in many different jobs, but working on the Barcelona Games was the only time he’s ever felt that he was working for his city and his people,” said Francis. “Till today, the people of Barcelona were appreciative of what they had done to revitalise the city through the Games.”

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