From 13 to 22 January 2012 Innsbruck and Seefeld will play host to the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games, which will see 1,058 athletes aged 14 to 18 from over 70 nations compete in 63 sporting competitions and, together with youngsters from the local region, take part in a one-of-a-kind Culture & Education Programme. The idea behind this mixture of sport and culture is to support young people in their personal and sporting development and to raise their interest in the Olympic Values.
Following the Winter Olympic Games in 1964 and 1976, the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games will give Innsbruck and Seefeld the chance to welcome the Olympic Family for a third time. INdeed, the support Innsbruck has as Host City and its status as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world is underlined by the fact that it was selected to organise the Games by the biggest majority in the history of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) - 84 votes to 15.
Featuring alongside the 15 core sports disciplines at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games will be a series of premieres. While some of these are completely new sports making their debut at the Olympic Games, others are Olympic sports which will break new ground by featuring new competition formats with 'mixed teams' uniting athletes of different genders and/or from different countries. These 'mixed teams' will give the young athletes the chance to live the Olympic Values of Respect and Friendship.
Running parallel to the sporting competitions will be the Youth Olympic Games Culture & Education Programme (CEP). The projects and workshops organised as part of the CEP will give participants the chance enter into discussion and to learn about the importance of healthy living, anti-doping and sustainability. Youngsters interested in media and reporting can also learn all about reporting from the Games and communicating with generations of young people across the world via social networks. All these cultural events will make for a festival atmosphere at the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games!
A top priority for the Innsbruck Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee (IYOGOC) is getting local families and, in particular, youngsters involved in the Games. That is the reason behind the YOG 2012 School Programme, a series of projects created in October 2010 in co-operation with the Provincial Government of Tyrol, Innsbruck City Council the Tyrolean Education Authority and local winter sports associations to support and promote communication and intercultural exchanges between schools in Austria and abroad. Youngsters from local schools will also have the opportunity to compete against in each in a range of disciplines and learn new winter sports as part of the YOG School Sports Challenge.
The brand new Youth Olympic Village (YOV) being built for the Games will make a major contribution to sustainability in the local region. Built in the east of the city by the state-owned construction group Neue Heimat Tirol, the YOV will comprise 444 flats to offer athletes and officials visiting Innsbruck during Games-time with comfortable, energy-saving accommodation. The flats, which are built using passive house technology, will then be put on the market from April 2012 to give locals the chance to rent or purchase the property.
The 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck and Seefeld are set to become a unique, unforgettable festival of sport and culture for local youngsters and athletes visiting the region, and they will serve as an inspiration for younger generations across the planet.