With one year to go until the world’s youth sports men and women take to Nanjing
for the summer Youth Olympic Games, the Namibia National Olympic Committee
(NNOC) last week started it’s countdown for the games in China by visiting the Hope
Centre in Windhoek. According to NNOC Chef de Mission Monica Böhm, the
countdown was specifically started to “create awareness and introduce the concept
of the Youth Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement to Namibia’s youth and
potential future Olympians”.
The NNOC Team announcing the 365 day countdown to Nanjing 2014
The youth summer games have first been hosted in 2010, Singapore being the host.
Over 200 countries and 3,600 athletes participated in the first edition. The age
limitations for athletes differ slightly for various disciplines with all athletes between
the age of 14 and 18 years.
The sports contested at the Youth Games are the same as those scheduled for the
traditional Games, but with some adaptations, and a limited number of disciplines
and events. For example, in the aquatics sport the IOC decided to include diving and
swimming events but excluded synchronized swimming and water polo. Some of the
sports have been modified for the Games. The basketball competition uses the FIBA
33 format, which is a 3-on-3 half-court game, where the periods are five minutes
each, and the first team to 33 points wins. The cycling disciplines are mountain bike,
BMX, and road, while track cycling has been left off the schedule.
Education and culture are also key components for the Youth edition. Not only does
the education/culture aspect apply to athletes and participants, but also youth around
the world and inhabitants of the host city and surrounding regions. To this end a
Culture and Education Program (CEP) will be featured at each Games.
The Cultural and educational activities at the Nanjing Games will be facilitated under
a framework of five themes:
- Skills Development
- Well-Being and Healthy Lifestyle,
- Social Responsibility and
The fundamental aim is to enhance exchanges between the youth around the world
with a view to promote social integration, international friendships, broadened
international awareness, and fostering the harmonious development of body and
Emphasis on exchange goes beyond the CEP. Another unique feature of the Youth
Olympic Games are mixed-gender and mixed-national teams. Triathlon relays,
fencing, table tennis, archery and mixed swimming relays are a few of the sports in
which athletes from different nations and mixed genders can compete together.
Qualification to participate in the Youth Olympics is determined by the IOC in
conjunction with the International Sport Federations (ISF) for the various sports on
the program. To ensure that all nations are represented at the YOG the IOC
instituted the concept of Universality Places. A certain number of spots in each event
are to be left open for athletes from under-represented nations regardless of
qualifying marks. This is to ensure that every nation will be able to send at least four
athletes to each Youth Olympic Games. Finally, no nation may enter more than 70
athletes in individual sports.
At the 2010 Youth Olympic Games Namibia benefited from the Universality Places to
participate at the Games. In 2014 Namibia is however also expecting to have
athletes qualify for the Games directly by achieving the qualification criteria and
therefore have a bigger team at the Games.