Conversation, not “preaching”, key to winning youth says President

IOC President Jacques Rogge has spoken in London on the role of the Olympic Movement in getting young people to lead physically active, healthy lifestyles, and the impact of the global credit crunch on the Olympic Games.

Giving the second annual de Coubertin Lecture to an audience of leading figures from the worlds of sport, arts and culture, the President said that it was “vital” that the Olympic Movement focuses on getting young people around the world into sport: “I believe that catching the sports bug simply helps you cope with life better. It encourages you to value yourself, and your body. It equips you for learning, and improves your ability to think and create.”

Hooking young people on sport
Presented by London 2012 in conjunction with the Royal Society of Arts and the British Olympic Foundation, the de Coubertin lecture is a landmark opportunity to promote the role of Olympism in society. The President used the event, on the eve of the Beijing Debrief, to link the UK’s proud Olympic history with the chance the 2012 Games provides to address inequalities in society.

Increased physical activity was vital if younger generations were to avoid the health consequences of a “sitting down” lifestyle said the President. “British children spend 5 hours and 20 minutes a day glued to a screen. Young people are playing sport less, they are spending more time in cars, and the consequence is more obesity and greater problems.”

Technology’s challenge and opportunity
It was vital to use the digital revolution to inspire more young people to take up sport and become active. “New technologies present a challenge, but they also give us new opportunities to engage and interact. On the internet today, people don’t simply sit passively watching content – they create it and share it.”

London’s imaginative logo and adventurous cultural and sporting initiatives showed that they understood this, said the President. “London’s vision places sport and athletes at the heart of the Games,” said the President, but puts a strong focus on “engaging young people, culture and education.”

Credit crunch
The President added that the world was going through “difficult times” economically, but that the Olympic Games “had survived difficult times before. They have survived and thrived because of what they mean to people all over the world.” The success of Beijing put the Olympic Movement on a sound footing to deal with the challenges of the coming years, and future organisers were well prepared, he added.

Discover President Rogge’s speech (PDF)