NANJING – Ninety minutes of songs and dances built on a program focusing on youth and vitality will kick off the second Youth Olympic Games Friday evening at the 62,000-seat Nanjing Olympic Sports Center here.
Seven Filipino athletes, all under 18 years of age and competing in six different sports, will take part in the parade of athletes from 202 nations. The ceremony begins at 8 p.m.
Archer Luis Gabriel Moreno will carry the Philippine flag during the opening ceremony to be witnessed by a crowd of at least 50,000, including the 20,000 young volunteers from the city of Nanjing.
The other Filipino representatives in this year’s YOG are Bianca Roxas-Chua Gotuaco of archery, Zion Rose Nelson of athletics, Roxanne Yu of swimming, Ava Loren Verdeflor of gymnastics, Victorija Evania Deldio of triathlon and Celdon Jude Arellano of shooting.
The YOG is a showcase of the finest youth athletes from around the world, all aged 14 to 18, and numbering around 3,600. This edition offers 222 gold medals in 28 sports disciplines.
The host nation has the most number of athletes at 123 followed by Brazil with 97. Liechtenstein, an alpine country in Central Europe, and Monaco are fielding only one athlete each in swimming and judo, respectively.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach of Germany and Nanjing YOG organizing committee president Li Xueyong will deliver speeches before the thousands in attendance.
Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose Cojuangco, Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia and International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines Mikee Cojuangco Jaworski lead the very small group of officials representing the country here.
Jonne Go, the chef-de mission of the Philippine contingent, said the level of competition in the YOG is definitely world class.
“These young athletes are the future of sports in their respective countries. This is the Olympics for the youth and for all the athletes here this is the biggest stage,” she said.
The seven Filipino athletes worked hard to get here, the chef-de-mission stressed, and each one of them will go out to give their best and vie for a medal.
“Our athletes are here to compete against the best in their respective events. They are taking it seriously but they should also try to enjoy the moment being here. They only get to compete in the YOG once,” added Go.
For 12 days, competition will run in 14 different venues located within four zones in Nanjing.
After Saturday’s opening ceremony, the Filipino athletes plunge into action on Sunday in artistic gymnastics, triathlon, and swimming.
The main venue, the Nanjing Olympic Sports Center, is also known as the Olympic Park. It includes a 13,000-seat gymnasium, a 4,000-seat FINA standard aquatic center, and a 4,000-seat tennis center.