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  • South Americans Vie for 2018 Youth Olympics


    (ATR) Buenos Aires, Argentina joins Medellin, Colombia, in the hunt for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games. Medellin was first to submit a bid for the YOG, notifying the IOC in November. That’s when a delegation from the city, including the mayor and a vice prime minister, attended the bid cities seminar in Lausanne.

    Buenos Aires is now in the 2018 race, too. This weekend in Innsbruck, Argentina NOC President and IOC member Gerardo Werthein  delivered a letter to IOC President Jacques Rogge proclaiming the BA candidacy.

    “We have had a few unsuccessful bids for the Olympics, but we thought that by starting with YOG it would be a good idea. It’s a very good symbol for our kids and it’s very much in line with our efforts to develop sport in youth,” Werthein tells Around the Rings in Innsbruck.

    He adds that YOG also fits with a longer-term events strategy for Argentina that already includes hosting of the2013 IOC Session when a host for the 2020 Games and new IOC President will be elected.

    “We thought we would go with a step-by-step strategy: 2018 we will bid for Youth Olympic Games, Pan Am Games for 2019. And then who knows, 12 years later?”

    U.K.-based Vero, led by Mike Lee, is on board to help with communications strategy for the bid.

    Werthein says the sprawling city of 10-million will still offer a compact plan for the YOG, employing a venue cluster plan that was praised in the 2004 Olympics bid.

    Werthein says the cultural richness of Buenos Aires, home of the tango, great writers and artists, should be another allure for the IOC to select the Argentine capitol for the 2018 YOG.

    Coincidentally, seated not a dozen feet away from Werthein at the lounge of the IOC hotel where he was being interviewed, sat a leader of the bid from Medellin for the 2018 YOG, IOC member Andres Botero.

    Botero led the delegation to Lausanne
    Delegation from  Medellin in Lausanne last November. (ATR)
    in November and this week will take the oath as the sports minister of Colombia.

    “We have a team of ten people working on the bid,” he tells ATR in Innsbruck.

    “We are working now on exposing the government and the people to sports events so they become more familiar with Olympic sports,” says Botero.

    “We have to promote the Games in the city and the country, so when the IOC polls, the people support the Games,” he says.

    Medellin hosted the 2010 South American Games while Cali hosts the 2013 World Games.

    Medellin, once notorious for its
    links to the cocaine trade, is a changed city from those days, says Botero. Set at 1500m in the highlands of Colombia, he says the city of two million enjoys “an eternal spring”.

    But the two South American rivals could face even more competition from the hemisphere. Monterrey, Mexico, is expected to join the fray when the IOC closes the applications in March.

    With Nanjing hosting the 2014 YOG, the second in a row from Asia, the Americas, Europe and Africa would seem destined for 2018.

    Abuja, Nigeria, has declared its interest, as well Kaspiysk in the Dagestan Republic of Russia. Glasgow is weighing whether to launch a bid from the U.K.

    The cities that meet the IOC deadline in March will then have the chance to complete formal bids. The field could be shortlisted after a technical review of the bids. Under IOC rules, bidders are limited from making much international promotion.

    The IOC will select a 2018 host in June 2013 in Lausanne. The election will be included on the program when the members gather for the technical briefing on the 2020 summer bids. 

    Written and reported in Innsbruck by Ed Hula.
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