Thursday,19 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1210, (21 - 27 August 2014)
Thursday,19 October, 2017
Issue 1210, (21 - 27 August 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Beyond sports

In Nanjing, it is about more than just winning and losing as participants delve into a plethora of cultural and educational activities. Inas Mazhar reports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) is an elite sporting event for young people from all over the world. It appears that, for a true champion, victory is not just an outcome, it is a combination of social responsibility, a healthy lifestyle and mutual respect.

Distinct from other youth sports events, the YOG involves athletes in a unique Culture and Education Programme (CEP) based around five main themes: Olympism, social responsibility, skills development, expression and well-being and healthy lifestyles.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach concurs that participating in the Youth Olympic Games is not simply about sports and performance. “It is also about meeting people of other cultures and backgrounds, learning about important skills in an athlete’s career and about experiencing the Olympic values,” he said.

Away from the field of play, in the Youth Olympic Village (YOV) and through a variety of fun and interactive activities, workshops and team-building exercises, the CEP gives participating athletes the opportunity to learn about the Olympic values, explore other cultures and develop the skills to become true ambassadors of their sport. Non-athlete participants, namely the Young Reporters, Ambassadors and Athlete Role Models, are also an integral part of the Youth Olympic Games experience.

Touring the YOV, one can find thousands of young athletes digging into a rich and diverse choice of activities being provided on sports and life skills to athletes and other young participants, enabling them to grow in their sporting career and to promote a healthy lifestyle. Here, in Nanjing, they learn from their peers as well as from sports champions serving as role models.

Ultimately, the IOC and NYOGOC hope that every participant’s journey through the YOG will leave a permanent mark and legacy.

Egyptian athletes have been mingling with their peers at the YOV and learning important skills, connecting to other cultures and celebrating the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect.

“We have been participating every day since arriving here at the YOV. It is so much fun and rewarding as well,” say athletics Hussein Sabah and Ahmed Youssef. “Each time we participate, we win points and with these points we win prizes, just like winning medals.”

“But most importantly, we are making lots of friends here and learning about other cultures because we are all in one place. We believe that the CEP would be an unforgettable experience,” Sabah and Youssef conclude.

While team officials and administrators enjoy watching their athletes have fun and share their valuable experiences, they can’t collect any points or prizes as the CEP programme is only for athletes and non-athletes youth.

“They allow us to play, but we can’t collect points or win any prizes. I wish I were younger,” a disappointed Egyptian team official, Ossama Sadek, said laughingly. “But I am happy and proud because according to the daily list, Egyptians are the most active participants at the different CEP events.”

In addition, activities are being organised outside the YOV for the athletes and other young participants. The programme will inspire young people to become part of the Olympic Movement, embrace Olympic values and carry forward the Olympic spirit.

Egypt is also taking part in the Young Ambassadors Programme (YAs) with 22-year-old Tamer Mustafa, a handball player.

Though busy participating in the programme, Mustafa still finds time to provide support to the Egyptian athletes. He is known to have been of great help to the teams and has been the perfect representative for Egypt in the programme.

“I am lucky I was first nominated by the Egypt NOC to participate in the programme and then been selected by the IOC among the 100 participants. It is very beneficial and I am learning a lot to pass to my friends and sports colleagues,” said Mustafa.

“During games, we as young ambassadors are expected to help Nanjing Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee (NYOGOC) promote and publicise the CEP and call on all athletes and non-athletic participants to take part,” he said. “I did not run into any difficulties with my Egyptian teammates. They have shown interest in all the programme activities by making appearances everywhere and all day whenever not training or competing. They are making my job easier.”

He added, “But part of the programme is to communicate with others. My colleagues have thus given me time to focus my attention on other delegations and to bring them to take part in the CEP programme. So far, I am pleased with what I have been doing,” said Egypt’s Young Ambassador, Mustafa.

The IOC has selected 100 outstanding Young Ambassadors from different NOCs for the purpose of assisting NYOGOC.

The Young Ambassadors are joining in activities such as Adventure and Treasure Hunting, Quest of the Ancient City Wall of the Ming Dynasty, Eco-friendly Agriculture, Music Appreciation and Cooking Workshops. They are also still expected to participate in various outreach activities organised by the IOC.

Unfortunately, Egypt is not taking part in another valuable programme: the Young Reporters Program (YRP), a sports journalism training programme for aspiring young reporters, funded and run by the IOC, with thirty-five young reporters from five countries taking part. They have been offered homes in the YOV alongside the athletes, access to all the sports and athlete education programmes, specialised class and field training in written, photographic, television, radio and new media reporting of multi-sports events.

Following the success of the first programme launched at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) nominated Young Reporters through a rigorous selection process. Each Continental Association then selected two male and two female participants aged between 18-24 years to represent their continent in Nanjing, where they are joined by Young Reporter representatives from Host Country China, and YOG Host City representatives from Nanjing 2014, Lillehammer 2016, Buenos Aires 2018, as well as the next Olympic Games Host City, Rio 2016.

The initiative, which is one of the elements which make the YOG such a unique event and demonstrates the IOC’s commitment to encouraging young people all over the world to be part of the YOG spirit, was developed as part of the CEP, the aim of which is to educate, engage and influence young people in sports and the Olympic values, inspiring them to play an active role in their communities, as well as to help them decide which media mean they are interested in pursuing for their future career.

Works by the Young Reporters will be published on the official website of the Nanjing.

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