IOC: Youth Olympics success prompts bid war potential for future Games

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Gilbert Felli, IOC Olympic Games Executive Director
IOC Olympic Games Executive Director Gilbert Felli speaks to the media at an International Olympic Committee press conference in Singapore on Aug 21, 2010 / SPH-SYOGOC/Ray Chua.
NIKKI WICKS in Singapore / Sports Features Communications

SINGAPORE, Aug 21: It's been just seven days since the inaugural Youth Olympic Flame was lit here in Singapore but cities around the world are already generating a keen interest in hosting future editions.

As the International Olympic Committee passed the halfway point so Gilbert Felli, executive director for the Olympic Games, said: "Athletes and spectators alike have really taken to the new sports formats. We're very pleased with the way in which the international federations have embraced the Youth Games."

With six days left until the Games come to a close, IOC director of communications Mark Adams also pointed out that the official YOG YouTube channel is approaching three million views, "which is actually more than the Vancouver Winter Games."

He added: "Clearly it won't surprise you that lots of the traffic has come from where there are big YouTube audiences, so the US and Europe specifically."

The figures make encouraging reading for the IOC. Speaking before the YOG about the challenges faced in engaging audiences in an unknown event, Adams had said: "It is a challenge to enthuse the Olympic audience about something new, and on top of that it’s a challenge to engage a young audience, who are in many cases, not always aware of the Olympics."

Questions though were raised about poor attendances at the live events. Despite claims by the Singapore Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee (SYOGOC) that all tickets are sold out, many events have continued to be played out in half empty stadia.

Felli said: "We are trying to understand why tickets have sold out but the people are not necessarily there. For many events, people buy tickets for the whole day and, after attending the morning session, they may not come back in the afternoon or evening session. As of last night, we've been working on that and stadiums were a lot fuller."

Next in line to carry the Youth Olympic Flame will be Innsbruck 2012 which will host the first Winter edition of the YOG and then the torch passes to Nanjing 2014 for the second Summer Games. The question of where the YOG will go subsequently is unknown, but Felli thought there was no shortage of interest.

Observer programme

He said: "We had this morning a discussion with an Africa country who have said they are interested, we also had one Latin American country show interest."

Although he was not specific, Felli also said that around 17 countries were in Singapore taking part in the Observer Programme. In a new move by the IOC, they have invited cities to take part in the programme before being signed off by their relevant National Olympic Committees.

"Normally we don't accept anybody to come to our Observer Programme who doesn't have a sign-off from their NOC. This is a new thing, quite a few cities have asked to come before they have talked with their NOC and we have invited them to come and informed the NOCs that they are here."

Speaking about changes to the bidding process for the YOG, Felli said: "We said when we started the process in 2007, that we will give six years for an Organising Committee to prepare for the Games. Now we see here in Singapore what they have been able to do in two and half years.

"When we see what has happened with some Organising Committees, if you give them too much time, they start to do planning and then re-planning and re-planning again.

"So, we have decided one month ago to reduce the time. It will be no more than four and half years for the Summer Games and three and half years for the Winter Games. If we start from the fact that they must have the facilities in place, they don't need so much time to prepare."


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