The Sports of the Youth Olympic Games
The Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games commenced with its Opening Ceremony on the 6th of October, 2018. It is the third ever edition of the Summer Youth Olympics and, aside from providing more exciting Olympic action and a chance to see future stars of sport in the making, the Games also feature some intriguing new sports that are not present in the regular Olympics. Here’s an overview of the events you can expect to see at Buenos Aires 2018.
The Athletics competition will feature 38 events and will follow an intriguing new format. The competitions will be split into two stages, and there will be no individual event finals. For the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 100m hurdles (women), 110m hurdles (men), and 400m hurdles, all athletes will compete in heats in both stages. The combined performances over the two stages will determine the overall rankings. This gives athletes a chance to compete twice. In the Race Walk (5km for women, 10 km for men), there will be 2 mass start races, with all athletes competing in both. There will be no immediate disqualification as athletes who receive three red cards will have to spend some time in a Pit lane but will not be immediately disqualified.
The field events of Long Jump, Triple Jump, and the throwing events will have two stages with each athlete getting four attempts in each stage. The performances in the two stages will be added to decide the final results. The Pole Vault and High Jump will follow the regular format for each stage, but like the other events, the combined scores will be used to determine the rankings.
For the long distance track events at Buenos Aires 2018, the 1500m, 3000m and 2000m Steeplechase, Stage 1 will consist of races in those events. However, for Stage 2, all the athletes (from across all three events) will compete in a single 4km cross-country race. While athletes of different events will be ranked independently, they will still run together. The results will be decided based on the combined ranking. If someone comes first in both, their final score will be 1 + 1 = 2 points. Hence, the athlete with the lowest final score in each event will be declared the winner.
There will also be an intriguing and unique 8 x 100m relay, which will be an exhibition event. It will be a mixed event, with 4 men and 4 women on each team. It will be a novelty for a number of reasons. Firstly, the teams have eight members. Secondly, the team allocation is completely random. Thirdly, all the athletes will compete. This means the teams will be made up of 4 men and 4 women, from different events and different countries. Lastly, it is a shuttle relay, so it isn't run around the track but rather up and down a straight 100m stretch, with static starts and successive runners running in opposite directions.
The sport of Gymnastic will feature the regular Olympic disciplines of Artistic, Rhythmic, and Trampoline gymnastics, the last of which was only recently added to the program. Along with this, the fascinating sport of Acrobatic gymnastics will make its Olympic debut, with 3 events, all done in mixed pairs, one focusing on balance, one on dynamic elements, such as throws and somersaults, and the third being a combination of the two. There will also be mixed team interdisciplinary event, where men and women will compete together in teams consisting of athletes from all 4 disciplines. The final rankings will be determined by the sum of scores of individual performances.
Break-dancing is one of the most exciting new sports at these YOG. ‘B-boys’ and ‘B-girls’ compete in dance duels with spectacular dancing and with incredible physical ability. Judges decide a winner of the duel. It may be debated that ‘dance’ shouldn’t really be included at the Olympics, however, anyone who says so will likely change their mind as soon as they see the talent and outrageous skill of the dancers. There are individual events and a mixed team event, and this sport, which epitomises dynamism, style and flamboyance, is one of the most appealing for a young crowd. It is a sport perfectly suited for an event like the Youth Olympic Games.
The Games will feature three events in archery, all using the recurve bow. Aside form the Men’s and Women’s individual competition, there will be a team event. The Youth Olympic Games have pioneered in gender equality and often feature many events where men and women compete together. One such event will be the Mixed Team archery competition, where teams are made of 1 boy and 1 girl. This event will also make its senior Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
The 2018 YOG will feature 2 Equestrian Jumping events. The athletes will guide their horse through the course, jumping over the obstacles. The winner is determined by the lowest number of penalties for knocking over an obstacle. As in all equestrian competitions, there are no separate categories for men and women. An interesting feature of the event is that the athletes will compete with unfamiliar horses, to whom they are randomly assigned. Aside from the Individual event, there will also be a team event, but rather than being competed by nations, the event will consist of 6 continental teams.
Many of the team sports at these Games will follow more unconventional, often shorter, formats of the sport, to add a new and exciting dimension to it, and also to offer some change from the regular year-round competitions and leagues of some of these sports. It also helps make the event more oriented towards the youth. One such example is 3x3 basketball, which will be seen on such a large stage for the first time. It is played on a half-court, with 3 members on each team, with everyone shooting for the same basket. The shorter format is fast-paced and action-packed and should an interesting addition to the program.
The Cycling competition will follow an intriguing format, featuring 4 events, all of which will be contested in teams. The combined team event (one for each gender) will feature 5 races, combining the skills of Road and Mountain Biking.
There are 3 Road events. In team time trial, where the cyclists are timed over 7km, with the second team member’s time being taken as the team’s. The Road Race is a mass start event, lasting about 60km, where the first to cross the line wins. The criterium is a race format seeing the Olympic stage for the first time, where the athletes must try to finish as many laps of the course as possible in a given time.
There are 2 Mountain biking events. One is a Cross-Country eliminator, which is a new event, first introduced in 2010. The athletes take one timed lap of a short cross-country course for qualification, and the top 32 compete in sprint heats with direct eliminations, where the top 2 of 4 qualify for subsequent rounds. The Cross-Country short-circuit race is a bunch race that lasts about 15 minutes. There will be two rounds of competition. The overall performances of the teams in all five events will determine the final rankings.
There will also be 2 BMX events, both 2-member mixed team events, though boys and girls will compete separately. In the BMX Racing Team Event, the athletes race over a short BMX course, with multiple runs, heats, and stages. The team with the highest cumulative score based on their rankings across races are declared the winners. In the Freestyle event, cyclists will showcase a series of stunts and tricks on their bikes, and will be judged on the difficulty and execution of the tricks. These Games will be a good introduction to the event that will be a new addition to the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Roller Skating (Inline Speed Skating)
While its hiemal counterpart is more famous and regularly features at the Winter Games, Roller speed skating will be making its Olympic debut at Buenos Aires, with 2 events. It is a fast-paced sport very similar to short track speed skating, and the races take place on a 200m banked track. All competitors race in 500m , 1000m, and 5000m races, and earn points based on their ranking in each. The cumulative points decide the rankings, and boys and girls compete separately.
A 5-a-side variation of field hockey, Hockey 5’s places special emphasis on speed and allows greater scope to showcase individual skill. Played in two 10-minute halves on a smaller field, the exciting new variation follows the same rules as normal field hockey, with the one major difference being that players can shoot for goal from anywhere on the pitch.
Rugby 7’s was a recent addition to the Olympic programme and was a very successful event in Rio 2016, and has been included in these Games as well. There will be a Men’s competition and a Women’s competition. The sport is played on a full-size field, but with only 7 players on each team, creating a lot of free space and fast-paced action. The match is divided into two halves of 7 minutes each (10 minutes for finals).
An interesting aspect of the sport of sailing is that, in a particular race, competitions are free to choose the path they take around the course and the order in which they complete certain sections of it. This makes the races very tactical and also adds a lot of unpredictability to the events.
While the Nacra event uses a normal racing sailboat, there will also be two windsurfing and, for the first time ever, two kiteboarding events at these Games. Windsurfing is a combination of sailing and surfing. Kiteboarding is even more extreme in that it resembles a cross between parasailing and surfing.
Sport climbing is rock-climbing on artificial climbing walls. It is one of the sports that will debut at Tokyo 2020, and is one of the most fascinating new additions to the Olympic program, involving some incredible feats with competitors supporting their entire bodyweight in difficult positions (sometimes entirely horizontal) on minuscule handholds and footholds. There are 3 disciplines: speed, where climbers race up a wall at blinding speeds; bouldering, which consists of short walls (called bouldering ‘problems’), which must be climbed without rope and that require only a few moves, but are very complicated, and require both precision and explosiveness in technique; and lead, where climbers ascend slowly up a long wall that tests consistency and endurance. The performances in all 3 disciplines will be combined to determine the final rankings, and men and women compete separately.
Beach Handball is a very dynamic variation of the indoor sport. There is more space for players to navigate and the guarantee of a soft landing on sand encourages many spectacular manoeuvres. With 4 players on each team, the match consists of two halves (10 minutes each), scored independently, with a point being awarded to the winner of a half. A tied match is decided by a ‘shootout’.
An iconic part of the Olympics, the Modern Pentathlon combines 5 different sports. Athletes compete in Fencing, Swimming, and Equestrian competitions, based on which they are ranked. The rankings determine the time intervals at which they start the laser-run, which is a running race with intermediate shooting stops, where they shoot at targets with ‘laser-guns’ (a bit like ski biathlon), and are penalised for missed targets. The leader after the first 3 events gets a head start, and the first to complete the laser-run is the winner. There will be 3 events, including a mixed relay.
The Japanese sport of Judo, with its spectacular throws and takedowns, will have 9 events at Buenos Aires: 4 weight categories each for boys and girls and a mixed team event. There are three ways to score: yuko, wazari (2 scores of which end the bout), and ippon, which immediately puts an end to the bout.
Karate will make its senior Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, and these Games will provide an opportunity to preview the sport, as well as identify potential future stars. Only the combat version of the sport will be featured at Buenos Aires. Athletes will compete in 2-minute bouts and will attempts to score points against each other through punches, kicks, and takedowns. There will be 3 weight categories each for boys and girls.
There will be 5 weight categories each for boys and girls in the Korean combat sport of Taekwondo, characterised by its spectacular and dynamic kicks, used to gain points against opponents. The type and region of landed kicks award varying numbers of points, and the fighter with maximum points at the end of the bout wins.
There will be 36 events in Swimming at Buenos Aires 2018. The distances will range from 50m to 200m (and 800m for freestyle). There will also be 4x100m freestyle and medley relays. There is also the addition of mixed 4x100m freestyle and medley relays, which will add an exciting new dimension to the races.
There will be 13 boxing events at Buenos Aires 2018, with 9 weight categories for men and 4 for women. The events will be contested by 17-18 year olds, and the weight classifications are the same as used in the senior Olympics.
The sport of Badminton will feature 3 events: Men’s and Women’s singles, as well as a Mixed Team event.
The Tennis competition, which will take place on a clay court, will include the 5 standard events of Boys’ singles and doubles, Girls’ singles and doubles, and Mixed doubles. There is an interesting variation, however, in the fact that all 3 sets in the singles matches will be tie-break sets, leaving very little margin for error for the players. The doubles matches will also have 3 sets but only the last one will be a match tie-breaker, which goes to 10 points.
There will be 4 events of this classic sport at these Games, one single sculls and one pairs competition for each gender. The races will take place in Puerto Madero on a 500m course.
There will be 6 shooting events, all from 10m. There will be individual air pistol and air rifle competitions, as well as a mixed team event for each.
The golf tournament will feature three events: Boys’ and Girls’ individual and a mixed a team event.
There will be 4 events each in Canoe Sprint and Canoe Slalom. The athletes compete head-to-head in either Canoes or Kayaks. In the Sprint, the course is circular rather than straight and it is a simple one-on-one race. In the Slalom, the athletes compete on flat water, rather than artificial rapids, but still must navigate obstacles and gates, to beat the opponents time.
There will be five Diving events at the Games. We will get a chance to see the traditional 3m springboard and 10m platform for men & women, as well as a mixed team event.
The boys’ and girls’ individual triathlon events consist of a 750m open-water swim, a 20km bike ride, and a 5km run, all done consecutively without stopping. There shall also be a mixed relay, where each of the 4 legs is about a third of the distance of the individual course.
Fencing is one of the few sports to have featured at every edition of the modern Olympics. There will be 7 events: an individual event for each gender in each of the three disciplines (Epée, Foil, Sabre) and one mixed team event.
A sport that has been at the Olympics since ancient times, Wrestling will have 15 events at Buenos Aires. There are 5 weight categories each for boys and girls in Freestyle (where the whole body can be used) and 5 boys’ categories in Greco-Roman (where competitors are restricted to using only the upper body to wrestle).
The outdoor, 2-member version of Volleyball will be featured at the Games, as in the Olympics. There will be one men’s event and one women’s event and the matches will consist of 3 sets of 21 points (barring the 3rd, which is played to 15).
The frequency of early bloomers in the sport of Table Tennis a fascinating watch, from which we can expect little disparity in quality, when compared to senior competition. It will feature 3 events: Boys’ singles, Girls’ singles, and mixed team.
The regular Olympic fixture of Weightlifting will have 12 events, with 6 weight categories each for boys and girls. As in regular competition, lifters will first compete in Snatch and then Clean & Jerk, with the combined lifted weight determining the rankings.
Since the Football competition at the senior Olympics is essentially an U-23 event, it would be almost redundant to feature the 11 a side game at the Youth Olympics, especially given the difficulty in competing with the popularity of domestic football. Instead, the IOC decided to include the indoor, 5 a side variation of the game: Futsal. Futsal has an element of novelty about it as it is rarely featured in large sporting events such as this, and given the popularity of football in Argentina, and the skill moves and fast-paced action of the sport, Futsal should make for an exciting new addition to the Youth Games.
The Games will be continue until the 18th of October, and you can follow the action from the official website: https://www.buenosaires2018.com/home?lng=en and you can watch it live on the Olympic Channel: https://www.olympicchannel.com/en/