(ATR) Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games organizing committee president Gerardo Werthein boldly proclaims that the Argentine capital will host the best Youth Olympic Games ever.
Leandro Larrosa, Gerardo Werthein and Horacio Larreta at press conference (ATR)
“Do we want to do the best Games in South America – no, we want to do the best Games ever,” Werthein told media at an opening news conference at the Youth Olympic Village on Wednesday afternoon.
“We had the proof the last weekend, when we had the weather with 100 kilometer wind and rain and everything was perfect,” he said, referring to a massive storm that the new venues and infrastructure sufficiently held up to.
“We have been able to lower costs and we can offer a world class infrastructure,” Werthein added.
Werthein was accompanied by BAYOG executive director Leandro Larrosa and the city’s mayor Horacio Larreta at the news conference, as athletes mingled just outside on a sunny and warm Buenos Aires afternoon.
The Buenos Aires mayor spoke of the tremendous legacy that the YOG will leave behind for the Argentine capital.
“The city will have a whole new neighborhood in the southern part of the city, which is the part of the city that needs it most,” Larreta said, referring to the location of the Youth Olympic Village.
Athletes arrive at the Youth Olympic Village (ATR)
“In the south of the city, we will have the best facilities for athletes and we are very proud of this,” he said, referring to the Youth Olympic Park and its training and competition venues.
Werthein elaborated on the future of the Olympic Park and its venues and facilities.
“Now it is an Olympic Park – it will take one year of work for it to be customized for a high performance center,” the Organizing Committee president said.
“The athletes that come here to train here don’t want to leave here. Once the center is completed, it will be the first high performance center in Argentina with modern technology.
“The technology allows us to maintain it at a lower cost. This will help us further develop sports. There will be a place for them to live and they can also go to school there.”
In terms of the budget, Larrosa noted that the Youth Olympic Games are currently 40 percent under their original estimation of $200 million. He also advised that the overall budget will continue to be calculated in U.S. dollars.
Werthein at the Youth Olympic Village (ATR)
“We kept it in dollars because of the exchange rate,” Larrosa said. “The budget was in U.S. dollars at that time and it is still in dollars. It is [the budget] 40 percent less than what we expected in 2013.”
In November 2017 one U.S. dollar was approximately equivalent to 15 Argentine Peso. Currently, it is at nearly 38 Peso to the dollar.
The YOG opening ceremony takes place on Saturday evening at the city’s iconic landmark, the Obelisk. For the first time ever an Olympic or Youth Olympics opening ceremony will not be held in a stadium.
"For the first time in history, the IOC has allowed it in an open area,” Larreta said about the innovative opening ceremony.
“Of course there will be some inconvenience, but most people in the area use public transportation and the subway will not be interrupted.
“We believe this is the right decision to make it open for all."
Werthein said the 90-minute ceremony is open entirely to all and it won’t matter where one is observing the festivities.
“It will be a 360-degree ceremony. Everything will happen everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you are. This will be something that will amaze us all.”
Some 4,000 youth athletes representing all 206 national Olympic committees will compete for medals in 32 sports at third edition of the Summer YOG.
Most of the 29 competition venues are spread across four unique and distinct parks.
“Thomas Bach has been to the different parks and he is excited with the concept and how it has been designed and formulated,” Werthein said. “Everything had been finished, everything is ready for the games, but I am still learning and we will continue to improve.”
The Buenos Aires YOG open on Saturday and continue through Oct. 18.
“Six years ago, it seemed like an impossible dream but now it is a reality,” the Mayor said about Argentina hosting its largest multi-sporting event ever.
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli at the Youth Olympic Village in Buenos Aires
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