IOC To Select Host City For 2014 Youth Olympic Games

On Wednesday the International Olympic Committee will watch presentations and then finally determine which city will host the 2014 Youth Olympic Games. At the IOC’s 122nd Session in Vancouver being held prior to the Games’ opening – Poznan, Poland and Nanjing, China remain in the running – both lobbying IOC members for their votes.

At stake is the right to invite the world to the second summer edition of the Olympics newest concept introduced by IOC President Jacques Rogge as a means to draw young people from their screens and get them to the playing fields. It is still an untested event since the inaugural Games have yet to occur; they are scheduled for August 2010 in Singapore. The IOC elected Innsbruck, Austria to host the first Youth Olympic Winter Games in 2012.

Until late last month Guadalajara, Mexico was also in the race for 2014 but due to a poor IOC evaluation report Guadalajara officials decided to withdraw their bid to instead focus their energies on the organization of the 2011 Pan American Games – a project that has been plagued by delays and financial problems.

The IOC evaluation report gave the unofficial nod to Nanjing as the bid to beat.

“…The Evaluation Commission believes Nanjing’s project to host the 2nd Summer Youth Olympic Games presents minimal risk to the IOC” the report concluded – giving an all-important stamp of approval that the IOC members will consider as they vote.

The city of 7.4 million is close to heavily populated Shanghai and has experience hosting multiple-sport events including the 10th National Games of China in 2005. These Games would provide a timely follow-up to the Beijing Games in 2008, reinforcing the sporting legacy and culture – but IOC members may prefer to locate these Games outside Asia where the first Games are to be held.

Poznan, by contrast, is a city of 550,000, and has experience hosting major sporting events. It has a youthful population and is located centrally in Europe – this could be the driving factor when the Euro-centric IOC membership votes.

Poznan received a more critical evaluation from the IOC with concerns about the Olympic village construction and a low overall budget identified as risks. But the bid pushed forward and continues to embrace the opportunity.

IOC rules forbid international marketing campaigns with the intent on keeping bid budgets low and the opportunity more accessible – but Poznan has waged a stellar viral marketing campaign through social media networks including Facebook and Twitter. The bid’s Facebook fan page has over 40,000 members and ‘tweets’ continue to flow identifying the campaign’s every move.

A tweet yesterday said “Mayor of Poznan: ‘We will not rest until we have done everything possible to convince the IOC that Poznan is the ideal place for the YOG'”

The effectiveness of social media campaigns in Olympic bid races is still undetermined – but Rio de Janeiro leveraged this strategy prior to their victorious 2016 Olympic bid campaign.

Nanjing will present first at 11:00 am local time in Vancouver, followed by Poznan. The first live Youth Olympic Games vote and announcement will occur before 1:00 pm.

Watch for news as it breaks.