Youth Olympic Games (YOG) are major sporting events organized by the International Olympic Committee and are consistent with the Olympic Games. The sporting event is for young people aged between 15 and 19 all over the world and is different from other youth sporting events in that the games integrate a unique Culture and Education Program. YOG focuses on five major themes namely Olympism, Skill Development, Social Responsibility, Healthy Lifestyle, and Expression and Well-being of the youths. The games comprise of both the winter and summer events which are held every four years. The first Summer YOG was held in 2010 in Singapore while the first Winter Games were held in 2012 in Innsbruck.
History of the Youth Olympic Games
The idea of YOG was first floated in 1998 by Austrian Johann Rosenzopf in response to the growing cases of obesity among children and the decreasing number of youths participating in sports activities, especially in developed countries. Organizing Olympic Games for the youths was also considered a means of fostering their participation in the main Olympic Games. Despite the brilliant reasons put forward, the IOC wanted the YOG to be more about cultural exchange and education and sports, leading to the development of the Culture and Education Program (CEP) as a component of the Games. The plans for a YOG was formally announced during the 119th IOC Session on July 6, 2007, by IOC President (Jacque Rogge). The city of Singapore hosted the inaugural Summer YOG from August 14-26, 2010.
Athletes who are participating in the YOG are placed in groups (14-15 years, 16-17 years, and 17-18 years) depending on their ages. The age of the athlete is determined by how old they are by December 31 of the year of their participation in the Games. For a youth to participate in a particular sport, the IOC in conjunction with the International Sports Federation of the sport in which they want to participate must determine their qualification. The concept of Universality of Places was instituted by the IOC to ensure that all the nations have representatives at the Games. For team sports, only one team represents a continent with the sixth team representing either the host nation or as accepted by the IOC. Also, a nation cannot be represented by more than 70 athletes in individual sports.
The sports program for the YOG is based on the traditional Games. 28 sports are contested during summer games and 7 during the winter games. However, some of the sports have been modified or include a limited number of events. The modified sports include 3-on-3 basketball and mixed National Olympic Committee events. Mixed NOC events allow athletes from different countries to compete together as a team. Other activities away from the field of play include workshops, interactive activities, and team-building. The athletes are also given the opportunity to learn the concept of the Olympics through the CEP.
Two summer and two winter YOGs have been held in the history of the Games. The cities of Singapore (Singapore) and Nanjing (China) hosted the 2010 and 2014 summer events respectively while Innsbruck (Austria) and Lillehammer (Norway) hosted the 2012 and 2016 winter events respectively. The next summer events will be held in October 2018 in Buenos Aires (Argentina) while the winter event will be held in January 2020 in Lausanne (Switzerland).
China, Russia, and South Korea have been the most successful nations at the YOG. China has won the most medals with 141 (78 gold medals), followed by Russia with 140 medals (57 gold medals). South Korea has won 61 medals (31 gold medals) while the Mixed-NOCs has won 89 medals in total (29 gold medals).