Selfies were the order of the day – and the order of International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach – at the opening of 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
At the pulsating Opening Ceremony IOC President Thomas Bach spoke directly to the 3800 young athletes taking part in the Games at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre to encourage them to share the moment by taking a “selfie”.
“Dear young athletes, these are your Games. This is your moment. So, young athletes, please join me: Let us all capture it – so get your smart phones out and let’s set a record for selfies,” President Bach said, before being joined on stage by five YOG athletes – Lilia Maamar (Equestrian) from Morocco, Jaheel Hyde (Athletics) from Jamaica, Dilixiati Dilana (Basketball) from China, Ivana Jorovic (Tennis) from Serbia, and Gabrielle Fa’amausili (Swimming) from New Zealand – with whom he took his own “YOG selfie”. Everyone in attendance was then asked to post their selfies to #YOGselfie.
“By sending this selfie … you are sending a strong message around the world,” President Bach continued. “You are showing your passion for sport and for fair competition. You are demonstrating that Olympic sport reaches beyond competition. It is also about sharing, learning and making friends across our globe.”
Four equestrians had the honour of carrying their country’s flag at the Opening Ceremony; Lilia Maamar (Morocco), Jake Saywell (Britain), Hamad Nased Al Qadi (Qatar) and Hisham Alsuwayni (Saudi Arabia). Earlier in the day they spent time with the other 26 equestrians at the Games getting to know their balloted horses.
The Opening Ceremony was produced by Chen Weiya, the executive director of the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. In the true spirit of the YOG, the show got off to a lively start and remained that way throughout the extravaganza in a ceremony tailored to appeal to young people and demonstrate the youthful vitality and spirit of the YOG. There were 4000 performers in total, 95 percent of whom were young students from Chinese universities.
The Ceremony highlighted the great history of Nanjing and China, its icons and landmarks, including the Purple Mountain Observatory and the Yunjin brocade. Explorer Zheng He’s expeditionary voyages to the west and the development of the Silk Road were also showcased, as was the Nanjing 2014 theme song “Dianliang Weilai,” or “Light Up to Meet the Future,” which was performed by an international selection of singers from China, the Republic of Korea and Russia.
The Opening Ceremony was attended by such dignitaries as President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge.
The second edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games runs from August 16 to 28.