Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore

During the next two weeks, Singapore is making Olympic history by being the host of the first-ever Youth Olympic Games, opening on 14 August 2010.

The Youth Olympic Games, to be held every two years (alternating Summer and Winter), is an international high-level sporting event for young people, which offers a balance of sport, culture and education. The Games were created to educate, engage, and influence young athletes, inspiring them to play an active role in their communities.

Around 370,000 spectators will gather to watch young athletes, aged 14 to 18 from around the world, participate in Singapore 2010. The inaugural games include high-level competition in 26 sports categories and a Cultural and Education Programme focused on a variety of themes including the Olympic values. It will also consist of skills-building sessions for participants, including on HIV.

As young people account for 40% of all new HIV infections globally, placing young people in the driving seat to halt and to begin to reverse the HIV epidemic is crucial.

“Young athletes are role models in their communities. We need to call on these young people to lead the prevention revolution if we are to reach UNAIDS vision of Zero new infections,” said Mr Michel SidibĂ©, UNAIDS Executive Director, “Sports can be a powerful vehicle to come about change in societies around the world.”

UNAIDS has partnered with the Singapore Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee (SYOGOC) in the context of its overall partnership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in order to provide HIV prevention information and raise awareness about HIV among young people during the two weeks of the Games.

“HIV awareness and prevention campaigns are most effective when addressed to the youth” said Mr Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee. He added: “Sport is a powerful tool for reaching out to today’s youth on all continents and for educating them early on about healthy and responsible behaviours.”

UNAIDS, together with civil society organizations, will conduct a series of workshops focusing on adolescent sexual and reproductive health as well as stigma surrounding HIV under the educational theme “Well-Being and Healthy Lifestyle.” Workshops will be open to the estimated 3,600 young, athletes and 1,400 officials in the Olympic Village.

The workshops will be run in collaboration with Y-PEER, a youth-to-youth initiative, and BEADS, a Singapore organization. The sessions will use dance and competitive games to address topic such as sexuality and HIV transmission, and addressing myths and misconceptions about HIV.

The content of these interactive sessions has been developed specifically for the Youth Olympic Games to engage athletes. In addition, condoms have been made available for free at the medical clinics.

Sport is recognized as a powerful communication tool and is unique in its ability to unify and galvanize people all over the world. In recognizing the importance of sports for development, the partnership with the Youth Olympic Games is geared towards one of UNAIDS’ ten priority areas namely to empower young people to protect themselves against HIV.


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