Glittering opening ceremony heralds the start of the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing


Nanjing (China), Aug 16 (IANS): The 2nd Youth Olympic Games opened in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing on Saturday with more than 3,700 athletes from around the world taking part in.

During the 13-day-competition sports gala, the young athletes aged between 15-18 will compete in 28 sports in arenas and stadiums in Nanjing, the capital city of Jiangsu Province, reports Xinhua.

Chinese President Xi Jinping declared the Games open after a colourful ceremony at the modern Olympic Sports Complex, where flags representing 203 National Olympic Committees paraded.

Among those present at the ceremony were Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, former IOC president Jacques Rogge, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, President of Maldives Abdulla Yameen, President of Singapore Tan Keng Yam, and other foreign guests.

"You are showing your passion for sport and for fair competition. You are demonstrating that Olympic sport reaches beyond competition. It is also about sharing, learning and making friends across the globe," said Bach at the opening ceremony.

"You are here to enjoy the competitions and to deliver your personal best performance. You are here to experience and promote the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect. You are here to celebrate the Olympic spirit. Enjoy your Games! "

After the athletes' parade, there was a stellar art performance, a brilliant combination of dazzling light, music, dance abd fireworks – a cultural extravaganza.

The ceremony reached the climax when Chen Ruolin, an Olympic diving champion coming from Jiangsu Province, lit up the cauldron that was carved with an intricate design.

Hosts China have fielded a 123-strong team to the Games, which runs until August 28, and expect a successful Youth Olympics to boost Beijing and Zhangjiakou's winning chances of hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

President Xi met with Bach prior to the ceremony and referred to the Youth Olympics as an initiative which integrates culture and education into sport. President Xi also said it's not only an arena where young athletes compete, but also a platform for communication among them.

Bach lauded China's preparation work in hosting the Youth Olympics and felt certain that China had set up a good example in making sport a resort which helps promote economic and social development.

Bach also wished Beijing and Zhangjiakou good luck in bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The Youth Olympics, a sporting event tailor-made for the youth of the world, has actively tried to distinguish itself from the Olympic Games in terms of the program settings. Inline skating, skateboarding and rock climbing have been included as the showcase sports. Besides, Wushu (Chinese martial arts) was selected as the cultural and educational activity.

In 2001, the Youth Olympics was proposed by Rogge, and Singapore held the inaugural Youth Olympics in 2010. China sent 68 athletes to the Singapore Youth Olympics and ranked first in the medal table by winning 30 gold, 16 silver and five bronze medals.

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