July 6, 2007 – The International Olympics Committee voted Thursday to create a Youth Olympics meant to drag kids from computer screens and onto the playing fields. The first is planned for 2010 for 3,500 athletes, ages 14-18. All Olympic sports would be represented, but with fewer events, and some new, youth-oriented sports might be introduced.
It would be the first major international sports festival created by the International Olympic Committee since the advent of the Winter Games in 1924. The program was approved unanimously by a show of hands.
IOC president Jacques Rogge said the games would inspire young people around the world to take up sports.
Details must be worked out, but the first Youth Olympics would be a summer games. And with just 3,500 athletes, down from some 10,000 at the Summer Olympics, Rogge said the smaller scope would make it possible for smaller countries to host the competition.
The 2010 site will be chosen in February, and Rogge said at least six countries already had expressed interest. The 2012 site will be picked by January 2009. IOC executive director Gilbert Felli said the athletes would be selected a year and a half in advance and the host countries could be smaller ones unable to stage the Olympics.
‘Maybe these Games could go to countries that do not have the capacity to organise Olympics,’ he said.
“Today we observe a widespread decline in physical activity and an increase in obesity” among youth, Rogge said, citing fewer physical activities in schools and the disappearance of open spaces in cities.
He also blamed the rise of the computer culture.
“One can speak of screen addiction,” Rogge said. “Multimedia, with its elaborate graphics … is sometimes more appealing than sport.”
The initial winter games in 2012 would draw 1,000 teens, at least four per country.
It wasn’t clear whether the games’ format would be based on an earlier proposal that youths participate without flags or national uniforms.