What happens if you cancel the Youth Olympic Games? | Wender Mind Kids

What happens if you cancel the Youth Olympic Games?

The 2022 Youth Olympic Games were scheduled for October and November in Dakar, Senegal, the first Olympic event to be held in Africa. Like many other events during the COVID-19 pandemic, the biannual event has been postponed by the International Olympic Committee. But in this case, rather than giving Senegal a year or two to safely host the event, the IOC took the step of postponing the event to 2026, a full four-year cycle.

The IOC has increasingly used the YOG as a test for potential future Olympic sports. Skateboarding and sport climbing both made their debuts at YOG 2014 ahead of making their appearance at the 2020 Olympics, and the big air event of freestyle skiing made its debut at YOG 2020 ahead of making appearances at the 2022 Olympics . Breaking will make its Paris 2024 debut after a successful attempt in Buenos Aires in 2018. Dakar 2022 was set to feature Wushu and a street variant of baseball called Baseball5.

All athletes who had planned to compete in the 35 sports scheduled for Dakar will feel the loss of the event. Without a YOG in 2022, many elite athletes aged 15-18 will lose a high-performance event this year as they progress toward the ultimate goal of becoming an Olympian. “When we were at the Youth Olympic Games, it was like a real Olympic build-up,” Emma McKeon, Australia’s most decorated Olympian, told the IOC in an interview about her swimming experience at the YOG. “We had a village and we had all the different sports; I really enjoyed it and it gave me a little taste of what the Olympics would be like.”

The first Youth Olympic Games were held in 2010, led by then-IOC President Jacques Rogge, who had pushed for the event in 2007 because he believed young people’s interest in sport was waning. The event was immediately designed to promote a balance between high-performance competition and ‘fun’, so it didn’t seem as if the IOC was urging youth athletes to view sport solely as a vehicle for competition.

“It has to be fun, it has to not be too serious, there shouldn’t be any gravity that you have with the traditional games. That’s for later,” said Rogge at the time. “They’re between 15 and 18, and that’s the age to celebrate, not necessarily the age to reach. For me, the measure of success lies in the satisfaction of the athlete. If the athletes are happy, then for me the experience is a success.”

Since its first edition, the event has grown to around 4,000 athletes and 32 sports in the last Summer YOG and 1,800 athletes and eight sports in the last Winter YOG.

The bid to host the YOG has been fully integrated into the IOC’s ‘future host commissions’, with the process being managed by the same members who decide which ‘favourite’ cities around the world the organization’s members will host the Olympics Games should be recommended.

This process was first tested in 2018 with the 2022 YOG Cycle before becoming the official process for selecting new host cities the following year. Dakar was chosen from four African cities to bring the event to the continent specifically to create a viable African Olympic bid in the future.

McKeon, the swimmer, was among a number of athletes who achieved success at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games and would repeat that success at the Olympics. A FiveThirtyEight The analysis identified 49 individual medalists who competed in Singapore and would go on to win a medal at future Olympics, according to data from Olympedia.

Of these medalists, 15 athletes immediately won a medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Four years later, that number almost doubled to 28 medalists at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and four years later the21 of these 2010 YOG medalists took home hardware from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

For many Youth Olympians, there is some opportunity to repeat that success in the immediate Olympic cycle – and more opportunities to develop into Olympians in cycles to come.

Youth Olympic medalists have found success at the Olympics

Number of athletes who have won a medal at Youth Olympic Games and who have won a medal at future Olympic Games, by length of time after YOG in which the athlete won a medal

incident Overall future medalists 2 years later 6 years later 10 years later
Youth Olympic Games 2010 49 fifteen 28 21
Youth Olympic Games 2014 40 12 31
Youth Olympic Games 2018 22 22
incident Overall future medalists 2 years later 6 years later 10 years later
Youth Olympic Games 2012 17 3 10 7
Youth Olympic Games 2016 13 5 13
Youth Olympic Games 2020 4 4

Individual sports only, including relays.

Source: Olympia

These trends go well beyond medalists. According to an IOC spokesman, almost 1,100 athletes have competed in the Olympics after their performances in the YOG. The number of YOG alumni who have participated in the Olympics has increased from 201 summer YOG athletes in London 2012 to 713 in Tokyo 2020 and 67 YOG alumni at the 2014 Winter Games to 341 in Beijing 2022.

This shows that without a YOG 2022 in Dakar, the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics might not have much of an impact, but their absence could hamper young elite athletes on their way to the following 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

Researchers say that access to a single high-level sports competition is rarely the most important part of young elite athletes’ development. Athlete development is multifactorial and rarely linear.

Carrie W. LeCrom, executive director of the Center for Sport Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, told FiveThirtyEight that “qualified and effective coaches are far more critical” to future athlete success than going to a single YOG. Having a coach who can help bring out the best in an athlete in a supportive, impactful environment will ultimately help them overcome the lack of a YOG, especially when looking at an athlete’s development over the long term.

“What they’re going to miss out on if they don’t have the Games are things like the camaraderie that’s built through competitions like this, the cultural communication and understanding that’s built when people from different countries come together, and the educational components of the Olympics Youth games like that are a great learning experience,” said LeCrom.

The lack of opportunities for various events will be felt disproportionately worldwide. In some countries it is likely that YOG athletes will not have an opportunity to compete in other high profile events or have access to facilities without a showpiece to look forward to such as. B. a Youth Olympics.

Eric Legg, a professor at Arizona State University who studies community sports experiences, told FiveThirtyEight that the event’s postponement will surely be a “huge disappointment” for any athletes planning to travel to Dakar this year. On the whole, however, YOG hasn’t increased sports participation around the world as much as its creators had hoped.

Without an event this cycle, the empty space could give sports organizations the opportunity to look at the bigger landscape and make adjustments needed to more comprehensively fill the gap to create a supportive and resilient environment for young athletes – that is, if these organizations choose to invest the resources. Also, promoting goals and achievements that athletes can achieve below YOG makes both YOG and the Olympics more achievable and helps athletes stay in the sport longer so they don’t get discouraged when they’re not in the elite athlete pipeline are.

“There’s a small number of youth who are interested and able to compete at an elite level,” Jon Solomon, editorial director of the Sports & Society Program at the Aspen Institute, told FiveThirtyEight. “The challenge is that in our society’s quest to compete, we have created a youth sports system that leaves too many children behind because of income and ability.”

With a gap in the YOG timeline created by the postponement to Dakar 2026 and no scheduled events other than the winter 2024 edition in Gangwon, South Korea, this postponement could present an opportunity for the organization to reconsider its place on the youth sports landscape. Some investment in high-level youth events has been made at the continental level, but an examination of the impact of these events on grassroots youth sport is warranted.

“The race for the top among youth athletes has created a divide over who has access to the sport. Like much of society, our sports opportunities for children have become haves versus haves not based on affordability and ability,” Solomon said. “If you don’t have those resources, there has been less and less opportunity for affordable, quality local sports opportunities over the last few decades.”

Fewer and fewer opportunities are putting pressure on events like YOG to fulfill their mission of getting more people interested in sport, competing at a high level, and learning more about each other and the values ​​of the Olympic Games.

YOG has successfully fulfilled its mission as it continues to grow in size, incorporate new events and provide high-level opportunities for athletes in smaller, less funded countries. Hosting the Dakar Games four years from now guarantees that the IOC will fulfill its mission of bringing an Olympic event to Africa.

Until then, the IOC plans to distribute its educational program to international federations and continental organizers for those bodies to use at youth-level championships later this year. Even without a YOG to train for, these events are essential to “allow [athletes] to further develop their sporting career at an elite level,” said the spokesman. “The IOC and Senegal understood that the postponement of the 2022 Dakar was disappointing for many young athletes. Both parties can only appeal to their understanding.”