Finding ways to revive the flagging interest of youth for sport is one of the aims of the latest IOC World Forum on Sport, Education and Culture underway in Busan, South Korea. The event is co-hosted by the City of Busan, the Korean Olympic Committee and UNESCO.
Up to 1,000 sports and education experts from 150 nations are taking part in the three-day meeting that ends Saturday. "Sport and Education for the Now Generation" is the theme for the forum, the sixth edition, held biennially since 1997.
This theme will filter throughout the three-day event with presentations on the values learned through Olympic education, using the Olympic experience as a teaching tool in schools and how organizations like UNESCO are using sport as a platform to increase access to quality education for the world’s children.
The World Forum sets objectives in the Olympic movement for culture, sport and education for the following two years. This year's meeting will examine how the recommendations from the Beijing forum in 2006 were implemented for the 2008 Olympics. The forum will also look forward to the 2009 Olympic Congress and the 2010 Youth Games in Singapore.
The presentation on the inaugural Youth Olympic Games is expected to be one of the meeting highlights. Moderated by Gudrun Doll-Tepper, president of the International Council of Sports Science and Physical Education, the session will include a 30-minute presentation by Essar Gabriel, head of the Youth Olympic Games for the IOC.
Ser Miang Ng, IOC member in Singapore and the chair for the Youth Olympic Games Organizing Committee, will be one of the participants in this panel. Host of the Youth Olympic Games in 2010, the nation’s representative will share with the other panel participants Singapore’s plans for the upcoming event.
"We can expect lively presentations and discussions on what is the educational potential of events like the Youth Olympic Games," said IOC President Jacques Rogge about his expectations for the forum. He will not attend, but up to 40 IOC members are said to be coming to Busan to attend the Forum being held at BEXCO, the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center. 2016 Cities Attend as Observers
Delegates from 2016 bid cities Rio, Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo will also be on hand to learn and share how they plan to integrate the Forum’s themes into their own countries.
"Education and culture are pillars of Rio 2016’s candidature," explained Mario Cilenti, director of international relations for Rio de Janeiro. "Taking part in the IOC World Forum is an excellent opportunity to learn and exchange ideas."
Rio will also share how they have introduced the Olympic values to Brazil’s youth through programs like the Fourth Annual School Olympics, which ends Sept. 28. This event allows 12 to 14 year olds to compete in nine different areas. It also includes a cultural component that utilizes puppet theater, educational visits and musical shows.
Madrid 2016 also has similar goals for their bid. "We would like the Olympic and Paralympic Games of Madrid 2016 to be the 'Games with a Human Touch' and to be a great sports event which brings the practice of sports closer to all social groups," explained Mercedes Coghen, CEO of the Madrid bid. "We would also like our Games to improve the idea of co-existence by integrating the values of the Olympics with every aspect of social life."
To accomplish this goal, Madrid has launched an initiative called Generation 16. The purpose of the initiative is to involve people of all ages and all social backgrounds in sport.
"Generation 16 is an initiative which will bring sport closer to the lives of everyone in Madrid and especially to young people through special sports events and school programs."
Tokyo’s delegation to the Forum will be led by CEO and President Dr. Ichiro Kono. They too are expecting to gather information on Olympic education activities that will enhance their bid for the 2016 Olympics.
"We are committed to our Olympic education program and will leverage Japan’s outstanding resources in this field to educate children and adults alike about Olympism," said Chiharu Igaya, vice president of the International Olympic Committee. "We are encouraging athletes to assist us in the program because they are great role models for children."
Representatives from Chicago 2016 couldn’t agree more about the importance of sports for youth. "The values of the Olympic Movement extend well beyond the Games period and provide fundamental lessons for youth," said Patrick G. Ryan, chairman and CEO of Chicago 2016. "This is why a focus of our bid plan is the legacy the Games would leave behind in Chicago – including programs for youth and communities."
The Forum will be followed by a two day meeting of the IOC Commission for Culture and Olympic Education that will begin Sept. 28. Thirty-three members of the commission, including 20 IOC members, are expected to attend. Senior IOC member in China Zhenliang He chairs the panel. Founded in 2000, the commission was formed by the merger of the Cultural Commission and Commission for the International Olympic Academy and Olympic Education.
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