Athens makes short list for inaugural Youth Olympics

Athens was among five cities – three from Europe and two from Asia – selected as finalists yesterday in the bidding to host the inaugural Summer Youth Olympic Games in 2010. Also short-listed were Bangkok, Moscow, Singapore and Turin. Four cities were eliminated from the race – Debrecen, Hungary; Guatemala City; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Poznan, Poland. The decision was announced by the International Olympic Committee following an assessment of the bid files by a panel of experts. The finalists for the event – which will feature athletes aged 14-18 – will be evaluated by a six-man commission headed by IOC executive board member and former Olympic pole vault champion Sergei Bubka. The executive board will make a recommendation to the full IOC, which will choose the host city by postal vote in February 2008. In the IOC’s risk assessment of the candidates, Moscow scored the highest ratings, followed in order by Singapore, Athens, Bangkok and Turin. Three of the finalists are former Olympic host cities: Moscow held the 1980 Summer Games, Athens staged the 1896 and 2004 Olympics and Turin hosted the 2006 Winter Games. The Youth Olympics, which will feature about 3,500 athletes, are designed to encourage young people to get involved in sports and spend less time in front of computer and television screens. The first Winter Youth Olympics will be held in 2012 for about 1,000 athletes. The host city will be picked in 2009. Meanwhile, London Mayor Ken Livingstone told a conference yesterday that Britain will support India’s bid for the 2020 Olympic Games. Livingstone, Sebastian Coe, head of the 2012 London Olympic Games body, and Chelsea football club’s Chief Executive Peter Kenyon are part of a high-powered delegation in the country aimed at developing cultural, business and sporting links between London and India. (AP, Reuters)