The world's first Youth Olympic Games (YOG) is well under way in Singapore. No, there aren't any star athlete on display, unlike the Olympic games when many competitors would already have gained fame competing in international meets prior to the Olympic games proper. This is an inherent weakness, if one can call it that, in the Youth Olympic games. Many, if not all of its athletes, are starting out their young lives chasing their dreams. The world's press cannot see themselves selling enough papers and air-time when there are no celebrities on parade. So there is a corresponding lack of buzz and excitement in the YOG
It would appear that Singapore's hosting of the inaugural YOG is both a boon and a bane. Its great because Singapore gets to show off its capabilities in organising a world class event. This it has done in the midst of putting on a fantastic National Day Paraded just a week ago. This 'can-do-ness' has become a hallmark of sorts for this tiny island nation. The world now knows that if it wants something done, it can turn to Singapore. Its a bane because it is easy to pick on Singapore for coming short on not presenting 'star athletes', inability to sell all the event tickets, lack of press interest, the hot weather, and what have you, as if Singapore can work miracles.
Sure, I am not personally tuned into the games even though I live in Singapore. Heck, I don't even have a ticket to any of its games. But that doesn't mean I do not feel a sense of pride for what my country is doing for world sports. Sure, there aren't any star athletes, but in time to come, they will hear of them who once competed in the world's first YOG in Singapore. In Singapore, you have no choice when it comes to work and career. We cannot put down our tools for 10 days. Well, maybe some can, but most of us can't. But we can support the effort by NOT pouring cold water on it. Starhub has devoted 4 free channels broadcasting various games throughout the day. I caught a badminton game, and I must say it's absorbing. These athletes may be amateurs, but that is what the Olympics is about in the first place.
Must we have the Press trumpeting an event to make it significant? I don't think so. In fact, I am seeing may young people dressed in the official YOG T-shirts running around the island these days. And no, they are not athletes, they are volunteers. I think in time to come, they will look back and be proud of the fact that they were part of the inaugural YOG.
Oh, to be young again!