The inaugural Asian Youth Games 2009



The inaugural Asian Youth Games (AYG) was a regional multi-sport event held from 29 June to 7 July 2009. Hosted by Singapore, the games saw the participation of 43 National Olympic Councils (NOCs) from the Asian continent. A total of nine sports were contested by 1,321 athletes.1

Background
The AYG was mooted in 2007 as part of Singapore’s bid to host the first-ever Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in 2010. It was deemed to be an important test of Singapore’s organisational capabilities and infrastructure as well as a training platform for young Asian athletes competing in the 2010 YOG.2 On 3 April 2008, the executive board of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) unanimously agreed to award the hosting of the first AYG to Singapore. Three days later on 6 April, all 45 members of the OCA gave their approval for Singapore to host the games.3


The games aimed to provide “a platform for youths in Asia to engage in friendly competition, and imbibe the Olympic sporting values of excellence, friendship and respect” as well as to serve as a “forum for the exchange of culture and learning”. A number of non-sports related programmes were also organised so as to achieve a holistic learning experience for participants.

Preparation

The inaugural AYG was co-organised by the Ministry of Education and the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) at a cost of S$15 million. The event was supported by partners  such as the National Trades Union Congress Fairprice Co-operative Ltd and Samsung, and sponsors like F&N and DHL. A pool of volunteers were also recruited to assist with ushering, welcoming, logistics and the manning of help desks.5

The games’ theme song and mascot were unveiled in March 2009. The theme song, “Asia’s Youth, Our Future”, composed by Iskandar Ismail and jointly written by Jose Raymond and Hoo Cher Like, carried the message of hope and friendship. The lion mascot, Frasia – short for Friends of Asia – represented the values and spirit of the AYG.6

Swissotel The Stamford was selected as the games village due to its central location in the heart of town, thus ensuring ease of access to all game venues. The hotel provided a 24-hour medical centre to aid athletes in their training and recovery from the competitions. Food prepared by hotel chefs and the SSC’s nutritionist ensured the athletes were provided with nutritionally balanced meals to enable peak performance.7

The games
The AYG officially opened on 29 June 2009 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium by the guest-of-honour, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Three Singapore athletes – swimmer Tao Li, shooter Jasmine Ser and bowler Remy Ong – all of whom had represented Singapore at regional and international levels, were the torch-bearers.8


A total of 471 female and 850 male athletes, ranging in ages from 14 to 17, participated in over 90 sporting events across nine sports, namely athletics, aquatics (swimming and diving), football, table tennis, sailing, shooting, 3-on-3 basketball, bowling and beach volleyball.9 Although the games officially commenced on 30 June, a day after the opening ceremony, the football qualifying round and competitions began much earlier on 20 June.10

The staging of the AYG coincided with the worldwide outbreak of the H1N1 virus. As the event drew near, 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.11 However, the unease of competing amidst a possible viral outbreak, coupled with Singapore already reporting cases of communal spread of the virus, resulted in Malaysia withdrawing all its athletes except for its sailors.12 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.13

With the approval of the OCA, the AYG engaged digital media to broadcast all its events live to local and global audiences – a first for a multi-sport event.14 However, attendance and viewership for most of the events were low. While tickets for the opening ceremony sold out briskly, most events recorded poor attendance.15 Tickets were sold exclusively through SISTIC, and although prices were moderately low, they were unaffordable for those who wanted to support the Singapore team everyday.16

In addition, the lack of updates, and unannounced changes to schedules left the public frustrated and disappointed.17 One of these last-minute changes occurred at the Myanmar versus South Korea and Pakistan versus China football matches, during which the kick-off times of the two matches were swopped without prior notice.18 At the press conference held before the closing ceremony, the organising committee noted many learning points from the inaugural event that could be used to make the 2010 YOG a more successful event.19

The closing ceremony was held on the night of 7 July at the Raffles City Convention Centre. Unlike the opening ceremony, which was a public event, the closing ceremony was held behind closed doors for the athletes to bond and interact.20

Venues
A total of 10 different venues were used throughout the AYG. A number of facilities were also upgraded to meet the requirements of the games.21

Venue

Event

3-on-3 basketball

Anglican High School

Athletics

Bishan Stadium

Football

Jalan Besar Stadium

Sailing

National Sailing Centre

Bowling

Orchid Country Club

Shooting

SAFRA Yishun

Beach volleyball

Siloso Beach, Sentosa

Aquatics – Swimming

Singapore Sports School

Table tennis

Toa Payoh Sports Hall

Aquatics – Diving

Toa Payoh Swimming Complex

Medal tally
The People’s Republic of China led the final medal tally with 25 gold medals and a total of 52 medals. Singapore exceeded pre-games expectations and finished fourth behind Republic of Korea and Thailand, which had 20 and 11 gold medals respectively. Singapore bagged nine golds, six silvers and 15 bronzes with a total medal tally of 30. There were 18 nations that finished without any medal.22


 

 Country

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

Democratic People’s Republic 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

The 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




Authors

Bhaskaran Kunju & Shereen Tay



References
1. Olympic Council of Asia. (2009). Singapore 2009. Retrieved 2016, May 10, from Olympic Council of Asia website: http://www.ocasia.org/Game/GameParticular.aspx?9QoyD9QEWPfpo3lRKXui9w==
2. Low, L. F. (2007, December 15). Youth Olympic bid team confident. The Straits Times, p. 65. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Olympic Council of Asia. (2009). Singapore 2009. Retrieved 2016, May 10, from Olympic Council of Asia website: http://www.ocasia.org/Game/GameParticular.aspx?9QoyD9QEWPfpo3lRKXui9w==
4. Olympic Council of Asia. (2009). Singapore 2009. Retrieved 2016, May 10, from Olympic Council of Asia website: http://www.ocasia.org/Game/GameParticular.aspx?9QoyD9QEWPfpo3lRKXui9w==
5. Tan, A. (2009, June 29). The road to AYG. The Straits Times, p. 72. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore Asian Youth Games Organising Committee. (n.d.). Our partners and sponsors. Retrieved 2016, May 10, from Singapore Asian Youth Games 2009 website: http://www.asianyouthgames.premiumtv.co.uk/page/TheGames/FeaturesDetail/0,,12804~1685410,00.html
6. AYG 2009 launches mascot and theme song. (2009, March 19). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Tan, A. (2009, June 29). The road to AYG. The Straits Times, p. 72. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Sports Singapore. (2009, April 24). Games village for inaugural Asian Youth Games moves to town [Press release]. Retrieved 2016, May 10 from Sports Singapore website: http://www.sportsingapore.gov.sg/newsroom/media-releases/2009/4/games-village-for-inaugural-asian-youth-games-moves-to-town; Low, L. F. (2009, June 3). Village with a difference. Today, p. 40. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Tan, Y. H. (2009, June 30). Off to a rousing start. Today, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Olympic Council of Asia. (2009). Singapore 2009. Retrieved 2016, May 10, from Olympic Council of Asia website:  http://www.ocasia.org/Game/GameParticular.aspx?9QoyD9QEWPfpo3lRKXui9w==; Low, L. F. (2009, March 20). 101 days to go, the rush begins. Today, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Shamir Osman. (2009, June 18). North Koreans give little away. Today, p. 60. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Lin, X. (2009, June 19). Youth Games on guard against the bug. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Wong, J., Wang, J., & Lin, X. (2009, June 29). Disruption minimal. The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Voon, T. (2009, July 8). Fitting finale. The Straits Times, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Tham, Y-C. (2009, July 8). Virtual mascot talks back. The Straits Times, p. 63. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Sports Singapore. (2009, April 24). 1st Asian Youth Games Singapore 2009 to leverage new media to engage youth [Press release]. Retrieved 2016, May 10, from Sports Singapore website: http://www.sportsingapore.gov.sg/newsroom/media-releases/2009/3/1st-asian-youth-games-singapore-2009-to-leverage-new-media-to-engage-youth
15. Low, L. F. (2009, May 13). Near sellout for Asian Youth Games opening ceremony. Today, p. 35; Wang, J. (2009, June 24). Slow sales for AYG tickets. The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Chen, M. (2009, July 8). Good and bad. The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Chee, R. (2009, July 7). Let’s do better for YOG. Today, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Voon, T. (2009, June 24). Sorry for oversight: Organisers. The Straits Times, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Tang, J. (2009, July 8). AYG a learning ground for Youth Olympics. The Business Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Closing ceremony to be closed-door event. (2009, July 7). The Straits Times, p. 33; Voon, T. (2009, July 8). Fitting finale. The Straits Times, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Singapore Asian Youth Games Organising Committee. (n.d.). Venues. Retrieved 2016, May 10, from the Singapore Asian Youth Games 2009 website: http://www.asianyouthgames.premiumtv.co.uk/page/TheGames/GamesVenue/0,,12804,00.html
22. Lim, L. (2009, July 8). Bumper haul. The Straits Times, p. 31; China top medal tally as swimmers shine. (2009, July 7). The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore Asian Youth Games Organising Committee. (n.d.). Medal tally. Retrieved 2016, May 10, from the Singapore Asian Youth Games 2009 website: http://www.asianyouthgames.premiumtv.co.uk/page/medalTally



The information in this article is valid as at 3 July 2016 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.

 

Subject
Recreation>>Sports
Sports and games
Sports, recreation and travel
Sports--Asia