While complementary about Nanjing’s organisation of the second summer Youth Olympic Games, IOC President Thomas Bach used the opportunity to publicise the landmark Agenda 2020 IOC Session in December: likely to be an historic reorientation of the Olympic Games.
On the table for consideration, he reaffrirmed, is adaptation of the 28-sport formula, trimmed to specific events so as to create space for new sports to be added to the Programme.
In an interview with China’s Xinhua news agency, Bach expanded on the Agenda theme. “There is an agreement to keep the limitation of the number of athletes [10,500],” he said. “This is important. At the same time, we must also look very carefully so as not to increase the number of permanent venues. Everything that could be new or needs to be new should fit within this frame of these two important limitations. It’s not easy. The Programme, as I said in my electoral manifesto, is a jigsaw puzzle, very complicated. If one piece does not fit, then the whole image does not fit.”
While many athletes have said they are happy with everything at Nanjing’s event, there is wider concern – as already reported – over the scale of these Youth Games and the imposition on future Youth hosts. Bach played down anxiety, insisting that Nanjing should not become a blueprint for future youth events.
“Future organisers should calculate their own Games, should approach them through their own way. Future Games will hopefully be different from Nanjing, will present a different concept of youth in their individual fashion, though you cannot say that one way is better than any other.”
However, shortly before the Games close, Bach was full of praise for Nanjing’s management. “It has been a great experience, really enjoyable to meet the athletes,to witness the organisation which has been flawless. There have been no problems to solve, we could just enjoy the Games, with the athletes, the volunteers, the people of Nanjing. The organisation is seamless, a really great job – a combination of friendliness and efficiency. Together, these guarantee a successful Games.”
Bach said he was delighted that existing facilities had been economically utilised at
the first Youth Olympics under his reign. “I’m impressed by the sustainable practices of
the organisation. The other day at the BMX Stadium, I was asked if I recognised the
chairs. I had no idea, and was told they were from Beijing’s Olympics in 2008. When
congratulated, the administration said ‘We just rented them, if Beijing do not offer us a
good price, we will send them back!’.”
Chinese IOC Member Yang Yang is keen, of course, to stress the promotion which Nanjing’s success may give to Beijing’s bid to host the Winter Olympic Games of 2022. With presidential diplomacy required in the circumstance, Bach was duly courteous. “Nanjing shows one more time China’s excellence in organising a major event,” he said, “exhibiting the hospitality of the Chinese people – a showcase for the nation.”
However a question-mark regarding Beijing with Session Voters next year at Kuala Lumpur, will be the sustained sequence of events in Asia: Beijing ’08, now Nanjing, Incheong’s Asian Games next month, Pyeongchang’s Winter Games 2018, Tokyo Summer Games 2020. The IOC is concerned to spread the message geographically.
Europe will be anxious to elect the first European host since Turin in 2006 , provided Oslo’s bid is confirmed in November. The third of three candidates is Almaty.
This article was republished with permission from the editor of the Sport Intern, Karl-Heinz Huba.