Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games



Singapore hosted the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (YOG) from 14 to 26 August 2010.1 During the event, an estimated 3,600 athletes from 205 countries, aged between 14 and 18 years, competed in 26 various sports events.2 The Games involved some 20,000 local and international volunteers, and attracted about 370,000 spectators.3

Background
The YOG was first mooted in 2001 by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge, and approved in 2007 by IOC members.4 Its aim was to inspire youths to spend more time on sports, and less on the Internet and television, as well as to promote cross-cultural interaction, understanding and learning among young athletes.5 Unlike the Olympics Games, which is held every four years, the YOG is held every two years.

Bid to host the Games
When the IOC launched the YOG bid process in 2007, Singapore was one of the 11 cities that indicated an interest in hosting the Games.7 The other candidate cities included Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Athens, Greece; and Moscow, Russia.8 In October 2007, Singapore submitted its bid package comprising 50 bid books, 25 CDs, and a file containing photographs, maps and letters of guarantee from various government agencies.9 Singapore was subsequently chosen in February 2008 to host the YOG, beating rival candidate Moscow by 53 to 44 votes. The announcement was broadcast live from IOC headquarters, and was received with great fanfare in Singapore.10

Organising the Games
The Singapore Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee (SYOGOC) was set up in March 2008 to oversee preparations for the event. Brigadier-General Goh Kee Nguan was appointed the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SYOGOC, while Ng Ser Miang was Chairman of the SYOGOC Board.11 The rest of the Board was made up of members from the private, public and people sectors like former and current sportsmen such as hockey player Annabel Pennefather, sprinter C. Kunalan and sailor Koh Seng Leong.12 It was aided by a panel of advisors comprising Senior Parliamentary Secretary Teo Ser Luck, and Ministers Teo Chee Hean, Ng Eng Hen and Vivian Balakrishnan.13

A budget of S$106 million was initially set aside to cover the cost of staging the Games, but by 2010, spending had more than tripled to S$387 million.14 The increased budget was due to a rise in the costs of logistics and transport, security and upgrades of the various sports venues and technology.15

The international exposure and economic benefits that Singapore gained from the event were considerable.16 The Games were expected to attract up to 40,000 foreign visitors, and generate an estimated $57 million in tourism.17 About S$260 million worth of contracts, some 70 percent of the total budget, were awarded to local providers of services such as food, transport, security and exhibitions.18

Games facilities
Both the opening and closing ceremonies were staged at The Float@Marina Bay, the world’s largest floating stage, located on the waters of Marina Reservoir and against the backdrop of architectural icons such as the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort and Helix Bridge.19

Athletes were housed at the Youth Olympic Village (YOV) located at the Nanyang Technological University.20 Competition events took place at venues around the island, including the Singapore Sports School, International Convention Centre, and National Sailing Centre.21 To facilitate the transportation of athletes between the YOV and competition venues, the Olympic logo was painted on selected road lanes so that motorists would give way to special YOG vehicles.22

Promoting the Games
The YOG had a number of elements that created a distinct youthful profile for the inaugural event.23 For example, the YOG mascots, Lyo, the lion cub and Merly, the Merlion cub were unveiled in November 2009. Lyo was an abbreviation for “Lion of the Youth Olympics”, while the name Merly was derived from the Malay word “mer”, or sea in English, and the letters “l-y” taken from the words “liveliness” and “youthfulness”.24 Further, the Singapore 2010 “Spirit of Youth” logo, which was revealed in January 2009, featured a lively figure in vibrant shades of red, purple and green.25

As Singapore was the first host of the YOG, the words “Singapore 2010” was featured on the Olympic Flag for subsequent handovers between future YOG organisers.26 The official YOG theme song, “Everyone”, was sung by artistes representing five continents, and produced by local music producer, Ken Lim.27

As part of the IOC’s Culture and Education Programme, 30 athletes, including swimmer Michael Phelps and sprinter Usain Bolt, were selected to be Ambassadors to promote the YOG in their countries.28 In addition, athletes had the opportunity to mingle with current and former Olympians at the “Chat with Champions” sessions.29

To create greater awareness of the event, particularly among a young, Internet-savvy audience, the IOC launched an extensive campaign using interactive websites and social media tools such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.30 Other public education efforts included the establishment of a YOG Learning Centre at the SYOGOC headquarters, and the creation of a documentary that chronicles the athletes’ journey called “Beyond Gold”.31

Preparations for the Games
The official Games timekeeper, Omega, installed two countdown clocks – one at the historic City Hall building, and the other at the ION mall at Orchard Road.32 Building and lamppost banners, billboards, pillar wraps and posters were put up in public areas, and road shows featuring performances, games and the YOG mascots were held at various locations.33 Tickets went on sale in March 2010, and were sold out within weeks, prompting the release of more tickets for sale in July and during the Games.34

The Olympic flame was lit in Greece in July before travelling to cities representing five continents. To mark its arrival in Singapore on 5 August 2010, a celebration was held the following day at the National University of Singapore. Over the following six days, 2,188 Singaporeans carried the flame to all parts of the island in a traditional torch relay, before sailor Darren Choy finally lit the cauldron at the Games Opening Ceremony.35 

Olympic honours for Singapore
The Singapore Olympic contingent was led by Chef-de-Mission, James Wong, a nine-time Southeast Asian Games Gold medallist. A total of 130 athletes represented Singapore across all 26 sports events.36 Singapore finished the Games with six medals – two silver medals for swimming and table-tennis, two bronze medals for taekwondo, and one bronze medal each for archery, sailing and football.37

The IOC conferred upon then President S. R. Nathan and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong the Olympic Order in Gold for successfully hosting the inaugural YOG.38 The Olympic Order in Silver was conferred on eight officials, among them were Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and president of the SNOC, and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports.39

Timeline
6 Jul 2007: IOC approves the creation of the Youth Olympic Games.40
24 Oct 2007: Singapore submits a bid to host the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010.41
21 Feb 2008: IOC announces that Singapore will host the YOG in 2010.42
Mar 2008: Singapore Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee is established.43 
10 Jan 2009: Official YOG logo is launched.44
12 Mar 2010: YOG torch and community cauldron are unveiled.45 
31 Mar 2010: Tickets for opening and closing ceremonies go on sale.46
5 Aug 2010: Olympic flame arrives in Singapore for a six-day tour of the island.47 
14 Aug 2010: The lighting of the Youth Olympic Flame at the Opening Ceremony marks the commencement of the 2010 Youth Olympic Games.48 
26 Aug 2010: The Youth Olympic Flame is extinguished and the Olympic flag lowered at the closing ceremony to mark the end of the 2010 Youth Olympic Games. The flag is handed to the mayor of Nanjing, China, the host city for the 2014 YOG.49



Author

Joanna HS Tan



References
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The information in this article is valid as at 2010 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
Youth Olympic Games (1st : 2010 : Singapore)
Sports, recreation and travel>>Olympic games
1965-1970 Nation building
Sports and games
Hosting of sporting events--Singapore
Events>>Historical Periods>>Independence and Nation-Building (1965-)