Young Delegate Laura: “Youth Olympic Games have a special place in my heart”
Author: Laura Maria Tiidla, ENGSO Youth Young Delegate
This was my fifth time witnessing the youthful energy of the Youth Olympic Games. The event brought together thousands of young athletes (aged 15-18) from all over the World.
This year, in Lausanne, I had the opportunity to volunteer through the IOC Young Leaders network and be located at the IOC Dome. Our role was to present the IOC’s various projects and its diverse work to the general public. We had more than 50.000 school children visiting us and getting to know the Olympic values.
From a personal perspective, I was impressed by how much effort was invested in the sustainability and youth involvement at this year’s edition of the Youth Olympics.
Some examples about the effort to reduce the environmental impact were:
· All transport was organised using public transportation;
· For the first time a two-wave system of athletes was implemented;
· Several events took place across the border, in France, to avoid building unnecessary sport facilities.
Their message throughout the games was “For Youth, By Youth and With Youth” with youth involvement and empowerment as one of the key commitments. Local schools and universities were involved in designing the mascot (a lovely mix of a cow, a goat and a St Bernard dog), the cauldron for the fire, the medal trays and the podium. They have composed the official song and most importantly actively contributed to the volunteer programme. There were so many opportunities available for young people to work in helping organise such a great sport event and gain valuable experience.
The Lausanne 2020 and YOG, in general, have been a testing ground for new innovative ideas. In addition to enriching the experience of these games, they could offer a glimpse into what the future Olympics could look like.
For example: mixed NOC events, no official medal table, new sports, gender-equal games in terms of athlete participation, diverse cultural and educational programme for the athletes, free access to all the events, medal celebrations in the city center, etc.
These are admirable actions that show a more sustainable, inclusive and less extravagant approach to the organisation of Olympic Games.
For me personally, the most enjoyable aspect of the games was the special youthful vibe surrounding the event. You could feel that from the smiling faces of the volunteers, thousands of schoolchildren running around, music concerts in the city center and the pure celebration of excellence by athletes in the mixed NOC events.
As Mr Antoine Goetschy, the Head of Youth Games at the International Olympic Committee, said: “The Olympic Games bring a lot of joy to people, but the people also bring a lot of joy to the Olympic Games”. I feel this rings especially true for the Youth Olympics.
I would definitely recommend volunteering at the YOG or the EYOF (for example, EYOF in Finland in 2021 is currently looking for volunteers!