Jacques Rogge expects great success

Updated: 2014-07-29 15:13


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GENEVA - Ahead of the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG), former President of International Olympic Committee (IOC) Jacques Rogge told Xinhua in an exclusive interview his expectation of the games to be a great success.

The YOG was created in 2007 by IOC when Rogge held office as the head of the organization. It was designed to be a new elite sporting competition for young people, which would be held every four years with both summer and winter editions.

For Rogge, there was a need to give young people the opportunity to learn values of sport at the time. He pointed out that normally the average age of athletes to participate for the first time in the Olympic Games was around 22 or 23, leaving a gap between the age of 15 and 18.

Sport, in his words, is a fantastic tool to better the young people.

"Sport brings health. Sport strengthens the body and the mind. Sport teaches young people more in a team than alone. Sport teaches them to respect the referee and hopefully to respect the laws of society later on. And sport helps shape their personality," the eighth IOC president highlighted the value of sports which in turn was part of reasons behind the establishment of YOG.

"We could give a lot of help to young people with the values of sport. We didn't have to wait for the age of 20, (or) 24. That's exactly what the reason was," explained the former IOC chief who formally announced the plan for YOG in 2007.

The inaugural summer edition was held in Singapore in 2010, and the first winter edition in Innsbruck, Austria in 2012.

The forthcoming Nanjing 2014 YOG, which was scheduled to kick off on Aug 16, was the second summer Youth Olympic Games.

Rogge expressed his confidence in the Nanjing games, believing it would be "a great success" and also "will be a blueprint for the future games."

"I have high expectations. When I look at the quality of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, I'm sure that you will deliver a good quality on the Nanjing Games. Of course you can not compare. YOG are smaller than and of a different nature from the traditional Olympic Games. But the knowledge of the Chinese (government) and Chinese people in organizing sports is at the highest," said Rogge.

The development of sports got further boosted in China after the "exceptional" Beijing 2008 Games which were of "very good quality," as highlighted by Rogge.

He commended that the efforts have been done "with great efficiency," saying that the concept of sports for all has been brought into limelight and been practiced by Chinese people in their daily lives.

Rogge further applauded China's National Fitness Day being part of the efforts, referring to the day observed on Aug 8 every year in China since 2009 as a mark of the opening of the Beijing Games. On that day, all public sports facilities would open for free and activities and campaigns emphasizing fitness would be held across China.

Rogge told Xinhua that his passion towards athletics was ignited by his parents who have been dedicated to sports and served as a model for him, and he has the chance to realize all his dreams after having grown up.

The former Belgian athlete said that he started in the Olympic movement as a representative in his own national Olympic Committee back in 1973, being a performing athlete then.

After the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games, Rogge decided to retire from the field of play and accepted the invitation from the then chief of Belgian National Olympic Committee, and became a Belgian sports administrator.

Rogge recalled the time when he worked there in representation of the athletes as a big responsibility.

"I was proud, but at the same time I felt responsible," said he.