Academic journal article The ICHPER-SD Journal of Research in Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport & Dance

The Promotion and Perception of the Youth Olympic Games: A Korean Perspective

Academic journal article The ICHPER-SD Journal of Research in Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport & Dance

The Promotion and Perception of the Youth Olympic Games: A Korean Perspective

Article excerpt

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) seeks to reignite interest in Olympic sports amongst a generation of adolescents that are becoming increasingly overweight and inactive. The IOC's Executive Director of the Olympic Games, Gilbert Felli, stated that some schools even withdraw sports and physical education programs from the curriculum to cut costs because they place a minimal value on the significance of sport and its impact on healthy lifestyles (IOC, 2007). In order to address both marketing and health related issues, the IOC announced inauguration of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) targeting young athletes aged from 14 to 18 (IOC, 2007). The first Summer YOG was held in Singapore in 2010. The president of IOC, Jacques Rogue, indicated that a primary objective was to reduce childhood obesity and increase participation in sport activities among youth population. Despite good intentions, since the announcement of the YOG, this new proposal has provoked mixed responses from both loyal advocates as well as equally committed critics. Critics have expressed concerns such as overtraining, risk of injuries, and psychological pressure among these adolescent competitors (Brennan, 2007).

The general purpose of the YOG has been shown to be multi-faceted. The first facet is to create opportunities for young athletes to compete at international levels of sporting events and with a related facet of fostering communication with related communities about their positive experiences with the YOG event. In addition, educational programs are expected to be initiated from this type of event, such as a Cultural and Educational Program (CEP), and the Competitive Program (CP), which is a type of contest for mixed-gender and mixed-National Olympic Committee (NOCs) teams (Torres, 2010). Another purpose includes allowing for an expansion of the host sites and host benefits for Olympic related events through the Summer and Winter YOG. Before and after the inauguration of the YOG, Singapore experienced many changes in economic, political, and social development. Likewise, international sporting events such as Olympics, Paralympics, and FIFA World Cup have been recognized as a booster for sports marketers as well as tourism developers (Goh & Tong, 2010). To maximize the potential benefits of this type of marquee event, the Singapore government and Youth Olympic Games organizing committee created marketing avenues for domestic businesses in association with the YOG. Plans are moving forward to develop the Youth Olympic park and provide additional monetary support for education (Goh & Tong, 2010).

Korea has also experienced similar benefits from hosting marquee sporting events including the Seoul summer Olympics of 1988 and the 2002 FIFA Korea-Japan World Cup (Jung, Chow, & Woo, 2003). Extensive research was conducted in Korea to estimate the effectiveness of marquee sporting events, and results indicated that Korea's economy has escalated and many positive political and financial benefits have occurred as a result of hosting these events (Song, 2003). Song (2003) further noted that many aspects of Korea's economy have improved including the infrastructure, tourist industry, sport leisure, electronics and telecommunications, and trade businesses. Enhancement of the country's image across the globe was an additional benefit (Olaf & Jung, 2001). The Olympics were also used as a means to encourage diplomatic endeavors, which is consistent with one of the IOC's mission (Lee, B, 2012).

Through these sport events (Olympics and World Cup), youth sports get attention from government, sports organizations, and schools (Lee, 2011). However, as IOC President Rogge mentioned, problems still exist within today's youth population such as increasing rates of childhood obesity, the need to participate in more sports activities among the youth population and the need to build a strong sense of ethics in youth sports (IOC, 2007). As such, another YOG facet of purpose relates to improving youth fitness and combating obesity. …

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