The inaugural Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, which will take place from January 13-22 next year, are now just 200 days away.
It was during the 119th Session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Guatemala City on 5 July 2007 that the IOC decided to create Youth Olympic Games (YOG), with the vision of a new event designed to inspire young people all around the world to do sport and adopt and live by the Olympic Values of Excellence, Respect and Friendship.
Following the inaugural Summer Youth Olympic Games, held in Singapore from 14 to 26 August 2010, Innsbruck and Seefeld will welcome the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games from 13 to 22 January 2012 after having been selected to host the Games by the largest majority in the history of the IOC – 84 votes to 15. With Innsbruck already acting as host city for the Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck in 1964 and 1976, the regional capital of Tyrol is now set to welcome the Olympic Family for the third time.
The event will bring together 1,058 top athletes aged 14 to 18 from over 70 nations to compete in the seven sports which will also be represented at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. As well as the sporting competitions themselves, these young athletes will also have the chance to participate in a Culture & Education Programme (CEP) designed to raise participants’ awareness of the Olympic Values and address topics including Olympism, skills development, well-being & healthy living, social responsibility and expression through digital media. With youngsters from the local region also invited to be a part of this cultural initiative, the CEP is set to be the platform for an intercultural exchange of opinions and experiences, transforming the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games into a unique festival of sport and culture.
The tough qualification system for the YOG means that Ireland are likely to have between one or two athlete places. At present Ireland have one place in the alpine skiing for girls folowing the initial list for the event.