A chance to learn
The Youth Olympics is not only a sporting event, but includes a Culture and Education Program. The program, originally proposed by the IOC, is designed to encourage young athletes to develop skills and interests outside sports from an early age. Over 20 culture and education activities featuring skills development, healthy lifestyle education, social responsibility and self-expression will take place in venues such as the Youth Olympic Village, the Nanjing Laoshan Forest Park and the Nanjing Olympic Museum.
"A lot of athletes stop their [athletic] careers for different reasons, but it's important for them to know there are other things in life. Even if you can't be a top athlete, life isn't over. You can always participate as a judge, a coach or a referee," said Gilbert Felli, IOC Executive Director for the Olympic Games.
The education program, which includes talks with Olympic champions, will provide young athletes with a chance to communicate with sports stars and learn what they can do after retiring from competition.
Galo Chiriboga Granja, an equestrian athlete from Ecuador, showed a deep interest in cultural activities in the Youth Olympic Village. She learned some traditional Chinese dances upon arriving at the Youth Olympic Village on August 11, and said she hoped to take the cooking class to learn how to make local Nanjing dishes.
"I have never been to an Olympic Village before. It's fantastic. I can't believe that I'm here," Granja said.
To ensure that athletes have enough time to participate in these cultural and educational activities, the IOC requires single-sport federations to take two days off on their event schedules and encourages athletes to stay in Nanjing until the end of the games.
Qin Jinjing, an 18-year-old Chinese badminton player, said the Youth Olympics offers her a chance to learn and make international friends.
"The atmosphere here is more fun and relaxed than at other major events," Qin said. "We have time to explore what is offered in the village and socialize with teenagers from other countries."
(With reporting by Xu Bei from Nanjing)
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About the Youth Olympic Games
The concept of the Youth Olympics was put forward by Austrian industrial manager Johann Rosenzopf in 1998 in a bid to cope with youth obesity and the declining number of young people participating in sports. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) wanted the event to be as much about cultural education and exchange as it was about sports; thus, the Culture and Education Program was introduced as an important component of the event. The Games are held every four years in staggered summer and winter events.
The first summer Games were held in Singapore from August 14-26, 2010, while the first winter Games were held in Innsbruck, Austria, from January 13-22, 2012.
The Second Summer Youth Olympic Games are underway in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, from August 16-28. Over 3,700 athletes between 14 and 18 from 204 countries and regions will participate in 28 different sports.
Mascot: Lele. The designer drew inspiration from the colorful river stones, or Rain-Flower Pebbles, for which Nanjing is famous when designing the mascot's appearance.
Emblem: The two lowercase letters "n" in the name Nanjing form the outlines of the ancient city gates to the city and folk dwellings customary in south China. These gates invite everyone to take part in this friendly and educational international youth event.
Slogan: Share the Games, Share Our Dreams
(Compiled by Beijing Review)