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Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires Bringing Glimpses of the Future of Sports

17 Oct, 2018

By: Michael Popke

Although they don’t attract the same level of attention as the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) — a competition for 4,000 young athletes ages 15 to 18 from more than 200 countries — opened in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Oct. 6 and run through Oct. 18.

The United States sent a delegation of 87 athletes (47 males and 40 females), who are competing in 21 sports. At the 2014 YOG in Nanjing, China, Team USA took home 22 medals — 10 of them gold — and finished third in the overall medal count.

Several other American athletes from Team USA also are in Buenos Aires for the YOG. Ty Walker, a 2014 Olympic snowboarder and Brown University student, will serve as a Young Change-Maker at this year’s Games. She is the first athlete selected by the U.S. to fill the position. Additionally, Americans Clarissa Chun (wrestling), Daryl Homer (fencing), Morghan King (weightlifting), Josh Levin (climbing), Danell Leyva (gymnastics) and Moy Rivas (sport dancing) are among the 54 athletes selected by the International Olympic Committee to serve as Athlete Role Models in Buenos Aires.

This year’s Youth Olympic Games are the first to be held outside of Asia and feature 32 sports, including four new ones: karate, roller sports, sport climbing and dance sport. The Games also boast new events and competition formats such as BMX freestyle, kiteboarding, futsal and beach hardball, to reflect the changing face of international sports competition.

One of the most noteworthy aspects of the Youth Olympic Games is its inclusion of mixed-gender events, including swimming relays, modern pentathlon relays, golf, tennis, table tennis doubles and equestrian individual and team competitions.

Another hallmark of the YOG is Learn & Share, a culture and education program designed to equip athletes with the skills they need to succeed in sports and in their daily lives. And at least one Buenos Aires venue, Mary Terán de Weiss Stadium (which opened in 1978), underwent a major renovation with the recent installation of a roof.

“This will be part of the legacy of the Youth Olympic Games: a multi-use stadium that is able to hold tennis, basketball, volleyball and handball events, among other sports, and that will also serve as a stage for cultural activities and artistic shows,” according to BuenosAires2018.com.

Six bids initially were submitted for the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics. The International Olympic Committee narrowed it down to three — Buenos Aires; Glasgow, Scotland; and Medellín, Colombia — before selecting the host country.

The Youth Olympic Games debuted in Singapore in 2010 and happen every two years, with rotating summer and winter games just like the Olympic Games. The exception will be the next summer edition of the YOG, which the IOC voted to move from 2022 to 2023 (a non-Olympic year). The IOC is actively seeking a host city for that event. The winter edition of the YOG will happen in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2020.

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