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A view from Argentina - The next Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires

Sunday 07 May 2017

Little known, certainly because of their novelty, the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) was born in 2010 with its first summer version held in Singapore from 14 to 26 August 2010. The first winter version was held in Innsbruck, Austria, from 13 to 22 January 2012. The next edition will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 1 to 12 of October 2018.

As I currently live in Argentina (San Miguel de Tucuman), I can confirm Argentina is a contrasted country. As in France, the capital (Buenos Aires), is not representative at all of the whole country. For example, if you walk around the city, you will feel like you are walking in any European capital. Buenos Aires is very modern and inspired by the European immigration. Moreover, Buenos Aires is a rich city, which gathers all the political and financial institutions of the country. To sum up in a broad outline, Buenos Aires, the coastline and Patagonia are quite rich when the inland are rather in financial difficulty.

Buenos Aires 2018 should be a catalyst of the urban and social development of the city thanks to cultural, sporting and educational actions based on the Olympism and its values. The goal is also to put southern countries under the spotlight. The concept is cool, but don’t they have other problems to sort out? The example of Rio is gripping. Moreover, the tricky issue is always the way in which the money is being used… and in South America, corruption is common practice. So, would the benefits be just for Buenos Aires or for the whole country?

First, it calls into question the repartition of the benefits of the Olympic Games, YOG or more generally in any sporting event. My purpose is not to list the pros and cons of hosting such an international event (infrastructures challenges, economic costs, human rights violations, international prestige…) but to contextualise the next YOG of Buenos Aires and to highlight it.

Then, I think it is important to know that the YOG are far from the "pomp" of the Olympic Games. The scale of the YOG is much smaller than that of the Olympics, which is intentional and allows for smaller cities to host an Olympic event. The host cities of the YOG must meet lesser or different expectations from the IOC. For example, no competition site will be built specifically for an edition.

Yes, the principal objection of hosting this kind of event is the cost. Nevertheless, the IOC demand more guarantees for YOG than for the OG because of their lower media and economic impacts. This way, I hope the next YOG will not lead Argentina to bankruptcy because the country is already facing serious economic difficulties (almost 40% inflation in 2016).

To conclude, I am totally pro-Olympic events (GO Paris 2024!) but I am aware of the bad aspects and controversial issues. So, I am sceptic about the next YOG in Buenos Aires but let’s be optimistic and confident. Let’s await the magic of Olympism.

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Sophie Hertfelder

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