Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympics kicks off in history-making ceremony

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-07 11:06:02|Editor: Liangyu
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IOC President Thomas Bach speaks during the opening ceremony of the 3rd Summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Oct. 6, 2018. (Xinhua/Meng Yongmin)

BUENOS AIRES, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- The 3rd Summer Youth Olympic Games kicked off in Argentina's capital in an open street party on Saturday.

It's the first time an Olympic opening ceremony has been held in the streets of a city and free for the general public, away from a traditional stadium.

The focal point is the Buenos Aires Obelisk, in the middle of the city's 9th of July Avenue (Avenida 9 de Julio).

Tens of thousands of people filled the streets, while the athletes and the Olympic family were among the audience. The young Thai soccer team Wild Boars who were rescued from Tham Luang cave in Thailand were also invited to the opening ceremony.

An amazing show with great talents in sports, tango and technology set the stage. Meanwhile a mobile stage went through the crowd, spreading a festive atmosphere.

About 4000 young athletes from 206 countries and regions around the world will participate in 32 sports in the next 12 days. It is the first Olympic competition in history with the same number of men and women athletes.

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri announced the official opening of the Youth Games.

"To get there, each of you athletes trained and competed hard. You give your best in the sports you love. This is why you deserve to be here," International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said at the opening ceremony.

"These Games are your Games. Every athlete is different. Guided by these Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect, each one of you makes the difference in sports and life. These experiences will stay with you for all your life."

Two Olympic champions and legends of Argentine sport, judoka Paula Pareto and sailor Santiago Lange, lit the Olympic cauldron.

The Youth Games is seen as a test-bed for future Olympic sports. Karate, climbing, beach handball, roller speed skating and breaking will make their Olympic debut at Buenos Aires 2018.

The first two have already been accepted onto the full Olympic program for Tokyo 2020. A series of new competition formats including badminton relay team event are also introduced.

China has named 82 athletes in its squad for the Youth Games. 3x3 basketball player Wang Yunzhang became the flagbearer for Chinese delegation at the opening ceremony.

Gao Zhidan, China's Chef de Mission for Buenos Aires 2018, said they would not be solely focusing on the number of medals won during the Games.

"What distinguishes the Youth Olympic Games from some other multi-sport events like the Olympic Games and the Asian Games is that the YOG program also offers a range of educational and cultural opportunities that build on the Olympic values," said Gao.

"I hope all the Chinese athletes can participate in the educational and cultural opportunities, and in that process let the world know more about China's younger generation," he added.