Mayor of Innsbruck Hilde Zach with IOC President Jacques Rogge and NOC President Leo Wallner at the signing ceremony of the host city contract. (Innsbruck 2012)
IOC President Jacques Rogge underlines his confidence in Innsbruck's plans to stage the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012 on a visit to the Austrian city today.
Rogge joined Austrian National Olympic Committee officials and Innsbruck City authorities to sign the host city contract in the Tyrolean capital before touring Olympiaworld Innsbruck, Patscherkofel, Nordpark and Seefeld Arena where events will be held for the YOG.
He met Innsbruck's Mayor Hilde Zach and NOC President Leo Wallner as well as other Games stakeholders.
“We are glad to be back in Innsbruck where the extraordinary 1964 and 1976 Olympic Winter Games were staged," Rogge said at a press conference.
The IOC delegation included Gian-Franco Kasper, president of the International Ski Federation and head of the coordination commission overseeing Innsbruck's YOG preparations. Olympic Games Executive Director Gilbert Felli, the IOC's Head of Youth Olympic Games Essar Gabriel and Rogge's chief of staff, Christophe de Kepper, were also present.
Innsbruck has only three years to prepare for the Games but Rogge insisted the city was a strong partner given its existing venues, experience in organizing international sports events, its enthusiastic winter sports fans and the support of the local, regional and national authorities.
“What matters now is that Innsbruck's excellent ideas for the Youth Games come to fruition,” he said.
He also expressed support for the organizers' understanding of the cultural and educational components of the YOG. “Innsbruck can count on the IOC and particularly on the coordination commission under the leadership of IOC member Gian-Franco Kasper,” Rogge said.
Kasper praised Austria’s enthusiasm for all elements of the YOG. "With the Youth Olympic Games, it is important to stress innovation and the culture and education program. It would be wrong to pay attention to athletic performance only,” he said.
In his remarks, AOC President Wallner thanked the City of Innsbruck, the State of Tyrol and the federal government for their support and strong cooperation with the IOC. He said the YOG represented a great opportunity for Austrian sport.
"At this early stage, and of course during the event itself, we must make Olympic values come to life in a way that is both contemporary and relevant to today's youth,” he said.
Christoph Platzgummer, president of the Innsbruck 2012 Organizing Committee, hosted the IOC delegation with the Tyrol's Deputy Governor Hannes Gschwentner.
The IOC has already held discussions with Innsbruck's YOG leaders about event formats and the culture and education program. There appear to be no major concerns about the timetable for construction of the Olympic village.
An IOC delegation led by Kasper will return to Innsbruck in March for an orientation seminar with the organizing committee devoted to all aspects of Games planning.
Around 1,000 athletes aged 14-18 years will participate in the YOG, which includes all seven Winter Olympic sports: bobsleigh (bobsleigh, skeleton), biathlon, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating (short-track, speed skating, figure skating) and skiing.
There will be a limited number of disciplines and events, which are still to be decided. The IOC said skiing will include Alpine, cross-country, freestyle, Nordic combined, ski jumping and snowboarding.
With reporting from Mark Bisson
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