August 14, 2010
President Jacques Rogge expects the Youth Olympics will overcome
spiraling costs and the so-far subdued fan enthusiasm to evolve into
one of the world’s premier sporting events.
Olympics, which open in Singapore on Saturday, August 14, and run
through August 26, will feature about 3600 competitors aged 14 to 18
from 204 countries competing in the same 26 sports on the current
Summer Olympics programme.
“Very soon, the Youth Olympic Games
will become as much an indispensable fixture of the Olympic calendar as
its grown-up brothers,” Rogge wrote in the days leading up to the
Cost estimates for the event have
skyrocketed. The IOC initially projected in 2007 the Youth Games would
cost $30 million to stage but by the time Singapore won its bid in
2008, the budget was up to $76 million. The government said in July it
expects a final bill of $287 million.
The organising committee
for the London 2012 Olympics has a budget of $3 billion. The overall
construction and infrastructure budget for London 2012 is more than $14
For Singapore, the Youth Games are part of a strategy
to diversify its economy toward tourism and services and away from
manufacturing. The opening of two casino resorts built by Las Vegas
Sands and Malaysia’s Genting earlier this year and the staging of the
first annual night race for Formula One in 2008 have helped attract
record tourist arrivals.
But ticket sales for the Youth Games
have been sluggish despite a $8.9 million government publicity campaign
featuring large billboards around the city that encouraged
neighbourhoods to celebrate the Games.
In an online poll last
month on Channel NewsAsia’s website aimed at getting a gauge of public
interest, 88 percent of 6,400 respondents voted, ‘I’m not interested at
all,’ in the Games.
“Singaporeans should spontaneously be
generating more excitement for the Games,” Ang Swee Hoon, associate
professor at the NUS Business School, said in a Straits Times editorial
“We should feel in our hearts a sense of awe that our country has been chosen.”
organisers, though, are confident of a successful games, expecting
interest to pick up once competition starts. The football competition
was to kick off o Thursday. The official opening ceremony will be
Saturday, with medals awarded in triathlon as early as Sunday morning.
IOC president took a great risk to organise these Games and bet on its
future,” IOC Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli told
reporters earlier this week in Singapore.
“The world is going to look at it and see if it works or not.”
athletes are already in Singapore, with many hoping that a stopover
destination used by tens of thousands of their compatriots en route to
Europe each year can be a springboard in their aspirations to compete
at the London Olympics.
The Australian Olympic Committee has hosted national youth festivals in recent years, which have launched some Olympic careers.
not only a pathway for competition but an opportunity to help prepare
young athletes for a lot of experiences,” AOC president John Coates
told the Australian Associated Press. The Youth Olympics “are going to
have a big element of education, learning about Olympic values, life
skills and values and those sorts of things, an anti-doping message.
We’re very interested to see how it all goes.”—AP