IOC Head Expects Youth Games Will Overcome Apathy and Costs

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge said he expects the Singapore Youth Olympics will overcome spiralling costs and subdued fan enthusiasm and will evolve into one of the world’s premier sporting events, reports the Associated Press.

Rogge wrote ahead of the Games, “very soon, the Youth Olympic Games will become as much an indispensable fixture of the Olympic calendar as its grown-up brothers”.

The Associated Press reports cost estimates have skyrocketed. In 2007 the IOC initially projected the Youth Games would cost $30 million to stage but when Singapore won its bid in 2008 the budget rose to $76 million. The government reportedly said last month it expects a final bill of $287 million.

Meanwhile ticket sales for the Games have been sluggish despite an $8.9 million government publicity campaign featuring large billboards encouraging neighbourhoods to celebrate the Games.

And in an online poll last month on Channel NewsAsia’s website, 88 per cent of 6,400 respondents voted they were not at all interested in the Games.

But organizers are reportedly confident that interest will pick up once the competition starts.

Rogge told the Associated Press this week, “I believe I can say we are experts in staging major sports events. But we are entering now a new field, the education field. We might make some errors in the beginning but we will learn from them”.

The Youth Games open in Singapore on Saturday and run though August 26, featuring about 3,600 competitors ages 14-18 from 204 countries competing in the same 26 sports as on the current Summer Olympic program.

The football competition is to kick off Thursday and the official Opening Ceremony will be Saturday, with medals awarded in triathlon as early as Sunday morning, reports the Associated Press.