Going for Gold
The Nanjing Youth Olympic Games combine sporting events with cross-cultural education for young athletes
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Special> Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games> Beijing Review Exclusive
UPDATED: August 25, 2014 NO. 35 AUGUST 28, 2014
Going for Gold
The Nanjing Youth Olympic Games combine sporting events with cross-cultural education for young athletes
By Ji Jing

WELCOME ATHLETES: Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the opening ceremony of the Nanjing Youth Olympics on August 16 (MA ZHANCHENG)

Green games

Innovation applies not only to sports settings during the event, but also to the preparation for the Games. Frugality has been a focal point put forth by the organizing committee amidst the country's call to host less costly events and the IOC's push to reduce the commercialization of sporting events.

"We have upheld frugality as the basic principle guiding our preparations," Nanjing Mayor Miao Ruilin said on July 5.

The First Summer Youth Olympics, held in Singapore in 2010, cost an equivalent of 2 billion yuan ($325.2 million). The NYOGOC has made clear that the total expenditure will be 10-percent less than that of the Singapore Games, or no more than 1.8 billion yuan ($292.7 million). Striking a balance between hosting an Olympic-level event on a limited budget and enabling citizens to benefit from local investments afterward is a central concern of the organizing committee.

The 35 stadiums used for this year's Youth Olympic Games were all converted from existing buildings. For example, the city's International Expo Center was originally used for exhibitions. During the Youth Olympics, its two halls will host boxing, taekwondo and fencing competitions, along with the fencing portion of the modern pentathlon. All the seats and stands have been rented and set up for temporary use. When the Games are over, these installments will be removed and the stadium will return to its role as an exhibition center.

The only brand-new venue built for the Games is the Youth Olympics Sports Park. Scheduled to open to the public after the Games, the park will function as an outdoor fitness center. "Even if we were not hosting the Games, we would have still built this park," said Miao.

The torch relay, an important component of the Games that served to spread the Olympic spirit while introducing Nanjing to the world, was also tweaked with an innovative approach: A "virtual torch relay" app was used to pass on the torch online. With the exception of the lighting of the torch in Athens, Greece, and the arrival of the torch in Nanjing, all other segments of the torch relay took place on the Internet through the app. Web users could download it and register to be a torch-bearer.

"The online torch relay enabled more people to be involved in the activity and allowed the torch to reach places that otherwise would be impossible," said Zhang Le, an assistant spokesperson for the Cultural and Educational Section of the NYOGOC.

"The online torch relay has reduced costs, and really represented the concept of 'green' Youth Olympics," added Zhang.

Also, in order to improve the city's ecological environment and fulfill the promise of "green" and eco-friendly Olympics, the Nanjing Municipal Government has made efforts to improve the public transportation system. For example, the city's subways and light rails have reached 180 km, ranking Nanjing's public transportation access high among cities of a similar scale. All the stadiums hosting competitions in the Games can be reached by means of public transportation, including buses and subways.

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