(ATR) Crown Prince Haakon tells Around the Rings
that the Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games are “even more about values” and “building the future” of Norway than the 1994 Winter Olympic Games.
Prince Haakon lights the torch at the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympics. (Getty)
The heir to the Norwegian throne spoke with ATR editor Ed Hula
at the Hafjell Lodge, near the alpine skiing venue on Tuesday.
“This is a great opportunity also for Norway to have a lot of young people as volunteers,” Haakon said, noting that all of the YOG preparations involved young people, including three college students who designed the “Look of the Games.”
“There are a lot of young people who have responsibility here,” he said. “So we’re building competence for the coming decades.”
Haakon, 42, had the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron 22 years ago. His 12-year-old daughter Ingrid Alexandra followed in his footsteps by igniting the YOG cauldron last Friday night.
The Crown Prince said he was a bit nervous before his big moment in 1994. “You don’t want to slip and fall or do something like that,” he said. “I thought if I did that, I would at least have a fun story to tell my grandkids.”
Everything went smoothly for both father and daughter. Ingrid Alexandra, he said, “took it very seriously,” and practiced the day before “so I think she was fairly confident. She did a good job. We were very proud.”
In 1994, he was proud to see the “amazing number of spectators” at the venues. While Norway performed well as the host nation, Haakon said, “I think the most important part is that we were able to cheer on everyone. The Norwegians were quite good at being good hosts.
ATR Editor Ed Hula sits down with Crown Prince Haakon. (ATR)
While the Crown Prince said young people “don’t really have a clear recollection of” those Games, he believes the YOG “will motivate and inspire a lot of young people -- just the notion that it’s possible to qualify for a Youth Olympics is something that I’m sure will help motivate quite a lot of young athletes.
And Haakon, who participated last year in the grueling 54-kilometer Birkebeiner cross country trek, stressed, “We love winter sports in Norway.”
However, the Crown Prince deftly avoided the question of whether Norway will host another Winter Olympic Games. The country withdrew the Oslo 2022 bid amid government opposition, but Lillehammer has expressed interest in 2026.
“We’ll see,” he said. “That’s up to other people than me.”
But Haakon pointed out that the idea of hosting the YOG was so popular that the Norwegian Parliament made a unanimous decision to support it. “Both that it was youth,” he said, “and also that it has this focus on values and fair play and ethics and learning and the culture side is something that people liked.”
Reported in Lillehammer by Ed Hula and Karen Rosen.
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