14 Jan 2012

Olympic rejuvenation urged by Rogge

2:01 pm on 14 January 2012

International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge says new life needs to be breathed into the Olympic Games with younger athletes and audiences in mind.

Before the opening of the first Winter Youth Olympics on Friday in Innsbruck, Austria, Rogge, 69, said the Olympic programme needs to be rejuvenated.

"We need to rejuvenate the Olympic programme, we need to adapt the Olympic programme to the wishes and the needs of the youth and not stay too conservative," he said.

"And I think the Youth Games are the ideal place to experiment with that," he said.

The Youth Games, with athletes from 14 to 18 taking part, will introduce new disciplines, including halfpipe freestyle skiing and women's ski jumping.

Other events are being expanded to include mixed-gender, mixed-nationality and mixed-discipline competitions.

Some of these will included for the first time in the next Winter Olympics at Sochi, Russia, in 2014.

''We believe that these games are important in that they allow us to give education to athletes at an age where they are very respective of that.

''We think that these Games will be a magnet for better sport participation,'' said Rogge.

More than 1000 athletes will take part in 63 medal events at Innsbruck until January 22.