The IOC has approved the Youth Olympics Games, with the first Summer Games set for 2010 and the Winter Games in 2012.
The goal? Reportedly, it is "meant to drag kids from computer screens and onto the playing fields." (ref Yahoo!News) It is targeted at atheletes aged between 14 and 18.
How will this affect figure skating? In an article in USA Today, Christine Brennan argues that Youth Olympics would create more problems than it solves.
Problems of pressure on young athletes to be in the spotlight. Problems where, in certain sports (figure skating and gymnastics) "it would have the effect of allowing the Youth Olympics to actually feature better competition than the real Olympics".
However, in figure skating, the Junior Worlds does not seem to be taking away any level of competition from the (senior) Worlds. Skaters compete at the Junior Worlds, and then go on to the Worlds. So, why can't the Youth Olympics just be the first step before the Olympics?
The question in my mind is: would holding a Youth Olympics really be able to pull youngsters away from the screen and to sports? Are today's 14-year-olds, who have spend their lives sitting in front of the screen, able to jump up right now and achieve Olympic standard in 2 years' time? Heck, they probably don't even know what sports they want to play!
Sports is a lifestyle. For most athletes, achieving Olympic standard comes from a "lifetime" of training and commitment to sport. If the kids are not already playing the game, it is doubtful they would suddenly pick up a sport because they want to go to the Youth Olympics!