Asian Youth Games

The Asian Youth Games (AYG) is a regional multi-sports event. The first edition of the series was held in 2009 with Singapore as the host country. The games were held from 29 June to 7 July over various venues across the island. It was participated by 43 National Olympics Councils (NOCs) from the Asian continent. A total of nine sports were contested by 1,321 athletes, 471 female and 850 male, ranging in ages from 14 to 17.

The AYG was first mooted in 2007 as part of Singapore's bid to host the first ever Youth Olympic Games (YOG) to be held in 2010. It was deemed as an important testing ground for the host country as well as for young Asian athletes. The games were in part a preparatory test run for the host country for the actual YOG. Hence members of the Singapore Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee (SYOGOC) were involved in the staging and running of the AYG.

The objectives of the Games were to provide "a platform for youths in Asia to engage in friendly competition and imbibe the Olympic sporting values of excellence, friendship and respect". The Games were also intended to be a forum for the exchange of culture and learning. A number of non-sports related programmes were incorporated into the Games to achieve an all-round learning experience. 

Singapore Sports Council (SSC) organised the Games with an estimated cost of S$15 million. The amount spent was part of the budget for the YOG, which stands at S$130 million. Additionally, numerous sponsors and partners, namely NTUC Fairprice, Samsung, Volvo, Jaguar and several others, facilitated the Games. A pool of volunteers was trained for the AYG and the same training programme will be extended to the volunteers of the YOG.

Given time-constraints in putting the Games together, the OCA allowed Singapore to host a smaller scale competition, with fewer sporting events to be contested. The YOG on the other hand is expected to be a full-scale event in the same vein as the Summer Olympic Games. A total of 5,000 athletes and officials from 205 NOCs are expected at the YOG, which is scheduled to run for 12 days with competitions in 26 sporting disciplines. The next edition of the Games will be held in Incheon, Korea in 2013.

Singapore 2009
The Singapore edition of the AYG was officially opened on 29 June 2009 with Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong serving as the Guest of Honour. Given the competition's affiliation with the YOG, several members of the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) and OCA were also present at the opening ceremony that was held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Three Singapore athletes, namely, swimmer Tao Li, shooter Jasmine Ser and bowler Remy Ong, who have all represented Singapore at regional and international levels, carried out the AYG cauldron lighting ceremony.

In total, ten different events were contested- athletics, beach volleyball, bowling, diving, football, sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis and FIBA 33, a variation of basketball that involves three players on each team. Though the Games officially commenced on 30 June, a day after the opening ceremony, the football competitions started two days earlier given the large number of teams involved in the event. The preliminary rounds of the football competition began much earlier on 20 June. 

Swissotel The Stamford was selected as the Games village for its central location in the heart of town, which provided ease of access to all the game venues. All athletes were housed at Swissotel The Stamford, while country delegates were housed at Fairmont Hotel, just next to Swissotel The Stamford. 

The hosting of the games coincided with the worldwide outbreak of the H1N1 virus. As the staging of the Games drew nearer, Singapore became affected by the fast spreading epidemic and there were growing concerns over the possibility of the Games being postponed or even cancelled. Stringent measures were put in place to ensure that a viral outbreak would not occur in the Games village. However, the uneasiness of competing amidst a possible viral outbreak, and with Singapore already reporting cases of communal spread of the virus, caused Malaysia to withdraw all of its athletes, safe for their sailors. While a number of athletes did eventually test positive for the H1N1 virus and were sent home or quarantined, no outbreaks occurred and the Games continued uninterrupted. 

The Games also engaged the use of the internet to broadcast events live on the New Media platform to local and global audiences. However, attendances and viewership figures for most of the events in general were low. While tickets for the opening ceremony sold out briskly, most events recorded poor attendances with only bowling and swimming enjoying capacity crowds. The preparation time for the Games had hindered the process of publicity and promotion. In addition, ticket prices were only moderately low and sold exclusively through SISTIC, which charged a booking fee.

The low attendance figures as well as the threat of H1N1 proved to be invaluable lessons in the preparations for the YOG. Athletes also gave feedback on improvements to the Culture and Education Programme (CEP), which will be taken into account for the YOG. 

The closing ceremony was held on the night of 7 July at the Raffles Ballroom at Raffles City Convention Centre. Unlike the opening ceremony, which was a public event, the closing ceremony was held behind closed doors as a more private affair for the atheletes to strengthen the bonds that they had forged during the course of the competitions. 

A total of 10 different venues were used throughout the competitions. A number of the facilities were also upgraded to meet the requirements of the AYG.

Venue Event
FIBA 33 (basketball) Anglican High School
Athletics Bishan Stadium
Football Jalan Besar Stadium
Sailing National Sailing Centre
Bowling Orchid Country Club
Shooting SAFRA Yishun
Beach volleyball Sentosa, Siloso Beach
Aquatics- swimming Singapore Sports School
Table Tennis Toa Payoh Sports Hall
Aquatics- diving Toa Payoh Swimming Complex

 Medal Tally
Asian sporting powerhouse, the People's Republic of China, led the final medal tally with a total of 25 gold medals and 52 medals in total. Singapore exceeded pre-Games expectations and finished fourth behind Republic of Korea and Thailand who had 20 and 11 gold medals respectively. The host country bagged nine golds, six silvers and 15 bronzes with a total medal tally of 30. 18 nations finished without any medals.

    Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 People's Republic of China 25 16 11 52
2 Republic of Korea 20 17 17 54
3 Thailand 11 7 2 20
4 Singapore 9 6 15 30
5 Hong Kong, China 5 8 5 18
6 Japan 5 6 4 15
7 India 5 3 3 11
8 Kazakhstan 4 6 4 14
9 Kuwait 3 3 5 11
10 D.P.R. of Korea 1 4 4 9
11 Islamic Republic of Iran 1 3 2 6
12 Taipei 1 2 7 10
13 Yemen 1 0 0 1
14 Qatar 0 2 0 2
15 Vietnam 0 2 0 2
16 Saudi Arabia 0 1 2 3
17 Sri Lanka 0 1 2 3
18 Philippines 0 1 1 2
19 Macau, China 0 1 0 1
20 Uzbekistan 0 0 3 3
21 Bahrain 0 0 1 1
22 Indonesia 0 0 1 1
23 Malaysia 0 0 1 1
24 Myanmar 0 0 1 1
25 Pakistan 0 0 1 1

Bhaskaran Kunju

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(RSING English 328.5957 SIN)

The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 

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