Rogge insists IOC lead the way in changing face of sport
INNSBRUCK, January 18,2012 - IOC President Jacques Rogge has rejected accusations that the Olympic movement has dragged its feet before the arrival of the rival X Games.
"We did not wait for the X Games to start thinking about that." he said. "We organised the very first Youth Olympic festival in Brussels back in 1991, some time before the Olympic Games. I am not ashamed to say that we did learn a lot from the quality of the event. We applaud the X Games, it is a very good organisation and part of the spirit is in the youth Olympics because that is what young people want."
Although some 900 media were accredited, getting coverage for this Olympic event has been a hard sell.Even in Austria, there have been complaints that coverage was hard to find. A youth event cannot compete with the build up to the Hahnenkamm World Cup race in Kitzbuhel which takes place this weekend.
12 other European broadcasters are on site here.The Olympic Broadcasting Service are also pumping out a highlights programme for those who are covering the Games from back home.
Two years ago at the Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore , the IOC launched a young reporters scheme.This was continued in Innsbruck where 15 were invited to take part . They were chosen in consultation with National Olympic Committees and have been provided with mentors. The IOC are bullish about the project
"We didn't want the young reporters to think they had to work for the organisation. They are independent." Said IOC media boss Anthony Edgar .
Care needs to be taken though. Governing bodies and newsrooms often have very different ideas about what makes a good story.
The IOC have also accredited a small number of school age pupils, just as they had in Singapore. This time the youngest was a 12 year old who was chosen by Austrian television.
The Main Press Centre is at the Olympiaworld Skating centre. Free wifi and cabled internet access have been available here.They've cut down the amount of paper on offer, surely a lesson here for the Olympic Games themselves.
At the opening ceremony, held in the Bergisel Ski Jump arena, the accommodation for media was standing room only. The organisers were no doubt relieved that the forecast sub zero temperatures did not materialise, on this night at least.
The Ice Hockey tournament featured Russian Maksim Tretiak, grandson of the legendary Vladislav Tretiak, goalminder of the great Soviet "red machine in the seventies.
Later on the same rink we also had a "Hockey Skills Challenge."
Up on the mountain mixed team event when two competitors race side by side down a slalom course is something that would translate well to the Winter Olympics proper.
"I think there is a great future for this kind of competition. We are looking at evolution, we are learning right here but we do not want to overload the Olympic programme" said Rogge.
The competitors are also encouraged to take part in a cultural and educational programme which includes exchanges with schools in Austria and overseas.
The participants are mostly from traditional winter sports countries. For Rogge this is sad but inevitable, but African teams could compete more effectively in the indoor ice sports such as skating and ice Hockey.
"It is difficult because obviously you need the geography and you need the climate. You should do more with the ice halls because you are lacking in the geography." he said.
At least no-one here has had the transport problems experienced by Rogge on his first visit in 1976.
"We missed the last bus so we had to walk all the way back into town" he said.