Rogge hails Youth Games as `perfection`

Singapore: IOC president Jacques Rogge on Thursday hailed the Youth Olympics in Singapore as exceeding all expectations as the inaugural Games drew to a close.

The event, for 14 to 18 year-olds, has been championed by the Belgian since he became International Olympic Committee chief in 2001 and he deemed it a massive success, despite empty seats at many venues.

"The Youth Olympic Games have exceeded vastly my highest expectations," he said in his closing press conference.

"I always knew it would be well organised, but I did not expect this level of perfection. I now have 22 Olympic Games under my belt but (Singapore) ranks at the very top.

"It has been a big effort but we will not be complacent and we will learn from these Games and go forward from here," he added.

The Games, which began on August 14 and end later Thursday with a closing ceremony, featured all 26 Olympic sports, with some adapted to appeal more to a younger audience.

They included three-on-three basketball and male and female mixed team events in triathlon and swimming.

Rogge suggested in an earlier question and answer session with athletes that the changes could be adopted at traditional Olympics as early as Rio in 2016.

"We will look at expanding these events in the future," he said. "I am a fan of mixed events -- we are considering adding them to the summer Olympic line-up."

In a further quest to tap into youth culture, the Games also embraced YouTube and social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

They also had a cultural and educational element designed to help athletes understand Olympic values, while instilling a sense of social responsibility and educating them about healthy lifestyles and managing their careers.

Rogge said he was encouraged by what he saw.

"By the next Youth Olympic Games, there will be far more media attention. Here in Singapore, we had 1,100 journalists and 166 broadcasters," he said.

"There were 5,000 videos downloaded on YouTube and four million people joining the Friends of YOG Facebook page.

"But we will endeavour to help publicise this event and make it even bigger. This is only the very first event."

All 205 National Olympic Committee members sent athletes to Singapore, with 93 countries winning medals, a wider spread than usually seen at a traditional Olympics.

Rogge said this boded well despite some countries not sending their best competitors.

"It is important that new countries win medals," he said.

"Some countries told me they have underestimated the scope of this competition. They said they regretted it and would send their best teams next time."

The next summer Youth Olympics will be held in Nanjing in 2014 and Rogge said he would make clear to the Chinese organisers that bigger is not always better, with the IOC keen to keep the event manageable.


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