(ATR) Two-hundred thousand people filled the city streets of Buenos Aires for a festive celebration of the opening of the third Summer Youth Olympic Games.
The Obelisk was a centerpiece of the opening ceremony (ATR)
For the first time in the history of the modern Olympic Games, an opening ceremony was staged in an entirely open environment, and not a stadium, inclusive to all.
The iconic Obelisk, towering high above the Plaza de la Republica and the world's widest avenue, never looked better, dynamic video mapping projected across its four sides, as vibrant music, pulsating beats and stylish tango dancers energized an enormous street party. The Obelisk was majestically illuminated in light blue and white, the South American nation’s flag slowly moving along its' sides, as Argentina’s national anthem played.
Acrobatic runners, gymnasts and BMX freestylers, daringly dangled from cables, entertained along the sides of the Obelisk. Bright, floating Olympic rings added yet another dazzling touch to the two-hour ceremony.
However, the crisp and clear Buenos Aires’ night belonged to the youth athletes, more than 4,000 of them, representing all 206 Olympic countries. The parade of nations was simplistic, yet poignant, as flag bearers marched across the main stage one-by-one with host Argentina, naturally, concluding the procession.
Two Olympic champions from Argentina – Judoka Paula Pareto and sailor Santiago Lange – shared the honor of lighting the cauldron.
Santiago Lange and Paula Pareto shared the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron (ATR)
Buenos Aires 2018 president Gerardo Werthein addressed the teen-aged athletes, standing on stage alongside IOC president Bach and two youth athletes.
“I would like to congratulate all the athletes for making it to the Olympic Games,” Werthein proclaimed. “You are already winners, welcome to Buenos Aires.”
Next it was the IOC president addressing the young athletes, the majority of his speech delivered in Spanish.
“To get here, each of you athletes trained and competed hard,” Bach said. “You gave your best in the sport you love. This is why you deserve to be here, at your Games. These Games are your Games.
Five performers on the floating Olympic rings (ATR)
“Every athlete is different. We all come from different parts of the world and have different cultures, but we are all united by the Olympic Values of excellence, friendship and respect.
“Guided by these Olympic Values, each one of you makes a difference in sport and in life. This experience will stay with you for all your life. We are all assembled here to celebrate you, as the real athletes, as the real game changers.”
Following five years of determination, turning a dream into reality, the Buenos Aires 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games were declared open.
A fireworks display – once again illuminating the tall Obelisk – drew the ceremony to a close, sending the Argentinian citizens home with a smile and sense of national pride.
The innovative Buenos Aires ceremony was a refreshing, welcome and appropriate change from Nanjing 2014, where an elaborate, over-the-top and costly opening ceremony took place at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Center Stadium in front of 60,000 spectators.
With the memorable opening ceremony concluded, the 4,000 youth athletes will now take to the fields, courts, pools and tracks. They will contend for medals in 241 events across 32 sports over 12 days of competition.
Viva Argentina, Viva Buenos Aires! Let the Games begin.
Coverage of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games is made possible in part by BA 2018
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli in Buenos Aires
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