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  • Bach Pleased With Lillehammer; Not Worried About Rio


    (ATR) IOC President Thomas Bach pronounces the Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games “truly outstanding in all the aspects” and expresses confidence in Rio 2016 preparations.

    Thomas Bach poses with YOG volunteers. (ATR)
    Bach had nothing but praise for the organization and execution of the second Winter YOG as it wound down Sunday, with only a few events and a closing party Sunday night.

    “We have had really fabulous facilities, which offered the athletes the best conditions they could expect,” Bach said of the many venues left over from the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games. “We saw great sport and innovative sport with new ideas in many respects. We saw competitions which really reflected the Olympic spirit and fair play.”

    He added that the organization was “flawless” and said it was “not only that the athletes were inspired, they in turn inspired the organizing committee, the volunteers, all of us with their great attitude.”

    Rio Subway Extension and Zika Risk

    Bach says he is not worried about Rio 2016 preparations. (ATR)
    Bach confirmed that Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes warned the IOC that the subway line extension from Copacabana and Ipanema to Barra da Tijuca, location of the main Olympic Park, may not be ready in time for the Games. O Globo newspaper blamed a delay in getting additional funding.

    “We have ongoing great confidence because we see there has been very good reaction from the different level levels of government, in particular from the federal government,” Bach said, “which has emphasized its full support again for the delivery of the Olympic Games in Rio. Given this commitment and given the determination of the mayor, the city and the federal government, we are really confident that also this project will be ready for the Games.”

    The IOC president also said he received positive news regarding the Zika virus.

    “This week I had a conversation with the director general of the World Health Organization who will travel to Brazil tomorrow to address this issue,” Bach said.

    Given the encouraging opinions of experts around the world, he said, “So also in this respect, our confidence is really firm.”

    Media Records Set

    The Lillehammer 2016 YOG reached 4 million people on Facebook. On Twitter, about 8,000 pictures with the hashtag #iLoveYOG reached about 3.5 million people around the globe, with hopes of more from the closing party.

    For the first time, YOG had live coverage on YouTube of these Games, with 100,000 spectators – about as many as were onsite – watching live, and many more watching later.

    Future of YOG

    YOG skiers at the Birkebeineren cross country venue (ATR)
    Bach will appoint a tripartite commission this week composed of all the stakeholders to discuss the future of the Youth Olympic Games. Lausanne 2020 is the last host city selected.

    “You see us extremely happy with the result of these Games,” Bach said. “This does not mean that it could not become better.

    “Can we become even more innovative? Do we have to be more conservative? This will be a fascinating and interesting debate.”

    Asked if the success of the Lillehammer YOG would help stop the dissenting voices who say the event is a waste of IOC resources, Bach made a subtle reference to IOC member Dick Pound, who was quoted in Norwegian media criticizing the event.

    “You can never stop this dissenting voice we have heard two days before these Games,” he said with a slight smile. “The success of these games will of course greatly influence consultations in this tripartite commission.”

    New Events?

    The ski jumps of Lillehammer 2016 (ATR)
    The YOG has often been called a laboratory. Slopestyle was introduced at the Innsbruck 2012 YOG and graduated to Sochi 2014. While Bach said some of the new elements in Lillehammer “could be in an Olympic program,” for PyeongChang 2018, “this is too late.”

    Christophe Dubi, IOC executive director of the Olympic Games, said earlier this week that cross country cross free and monobob showed potential for a future Olympic program.

    Bach said the IOC would have to discuss with the international federations how new events could be further developed and gauge international acceptance.

    “With regard to innovation, I’m very happy with the test events in PyeongChang,” he said, citing “the most innovative course they have ever had.”

    Return of Bjorndalen

    After the World Championships in biathlon in Oslo next month, Bach said he expects IOC member Olav Einar Bjorndalen to contribute more to the IOC. Bjorndalen, who was elected as an athletes’ commission representative in Sochi, has not attended IOC sessions and even skipped Lillehammer 2016 to prepare for his final World Championships.

    Bach said he had agreed to let Bjorndalen take a step back from his responsibilities with the IOC.

    “This will be a wonderful farewell party,” Bach said. “He wanted to have this event in his home country and I am sure the Norwegians will carry him on their shoulders through Oslo and will pay him all the respect and the honor he deserves, being the most successful athlete” in the Winter Olympic Games.

    After he competes, Bach said, “he will dedicate his time to his task in the IOC.”

    Written by Karen Rosen in Lillehammer.

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