Today, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee selected Innsbruck, Austria, Harbin, China, Kuopio, Finland and Lillehammer, Norway as finalists in the competition to host the First Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012. While celebrating the IOC’s decision at Austria House in Beijing, Austrian IOC Member and President of the National Olympic Committee of Austria, Leo Wallner, said “This is a great day for all of Austria, particularly for our millions of winter sports fans and for our next generations of young Olympians.”
“I am grateful to the IOC for the selection of Innsbruck as a finalist,” Wallner said. “We are honoured to be competing against Harbin, Kuopio and Lillehammer. I believe the decision for Innsbruck is a reflection of two things: first, the quality of the Olympic-class sports venue infrastructure that exists in Innsbruck and is ready to host the Games; and second, the innovative quality of the culture and education programme we described in our bid.”
“It is very gratifying,” Wallner said, “to read the conclusion of the IOC’s Report on Innbruck, which calls our plan ‘robust and very well thought through’ and further states that we have make ‘good use of existing venues and infrastructure.’ ” “Most of all,” Wallner said, “we were very pleased with the recognition that Innbruck’s ‘overall concept is very compact (all within 30 minutes) allowing for reduced transport times for young athletes that would all live in the same Youth Olympic Village. The culture and education programme is youth-oriented, encompasses all audiences and provides for a festive downtown atmosphere. The panel believes that Innsbruck's proposal well embraces the philosophy of the Youth Olympic Games all the while providing for a reliable project for 2012.’ ”
As a two-time Olympic Winter Games host (1964 and 1976) and one of the world’s leading winter sport destinations, Innbruck has today all but one of the venues necessary to stage the Winter Youth Olympic Games, including the bob and luge run at the Innsbruck Sliding Centre. To complete the venue plan, Innsbruck only needs to add a temporary curling sheet, which would be installed inside the Innsbruck Exhibition Centre. The full transportation infrastructure is also in place.
“Our venues are world-class in every respect,” said Martin Schnitzer, the CEO of the Innsbruck 2012 Bid Committee. “Over the last eight years, Innsbruck and the State of Tyrol have invested more than €150 million (USD225 million) to upgrade and expand venues and winter transport systems that would be deployed for the Games.”
“More importantly,” Schnitzer said, “I believe our concept for a fully integrated sports and media experience aligns very well with the IOC’s objectives for the Youth Olympic Winter Games. Our Cultural and Education Programme is designed to inspire young people athletically, culturally and vocationally. It will give each young participant an opportunity to collaborate across cultures in the creation of athlete-generated Internet content that can be shared with the world during the Games.”
When news of Innsbruck’s selection as a finalists reached Vienna, Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, expressed his appreciation to the Executive Board: “I am delighted to hear that we are moving forward in this important bid race,” said Gusenbauer. “As I have said before, Austria would be deeply honoured to partner with the International Olympic Committee in staging the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck in 2012. In its geography, its history and its character, Innsbruck exemplifies the finest traditions of Austria’s passionate commitment to winter sport. In Innsbruck, young athletes and youth communities around the world will have a unique opportunity to engage in a true winter sport culture and experience first hand the values of friendship, excellence and respect that give the Olympic Movement its enduring power.”As a service to our readers, Around the Rings will provide verbatim texts of selected press releases issued by Olympic-related organizations, federations, businesses and sponsors.
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