Story by Dawn Yip
The Padang, Thursday, February 21, 2008 – The long wait is finally over, and the vote has gone Singapore's way.
Beginning with a field of eleven cities, the competition to host the first-ever Youth Olympic Games was narrowed down to five cities in November 2007, then further reduced to Singapore and Moscow in January 2008. After a secret ballot by members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over the last few weeks, the IOC President Jacques Rogge today announced Singapore as the winning city to host the inaugural Summer Youth Olympic Games in 2010. Singapore beat Moscow by 53 to 44 votes.
"Hosting the Youth Olympic Games for the first time is a great responsibility, and I have every confidence in the team in Singapore," said Rogge from Lausanne Switzerland, where the IOC is headquartered.
The announcement was beamed Ã¢â‚¬Ëœlive' via satellite onto two giant screens at the Padang in Singapore. Present was a boisterous audience comprising some 5,000 representatives of schools, sports associations, youth organisations and corporations, as well as members of the public. As soon as Singapore was announced the winner, the crowd erupted into deafening cheers, and sports officials, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong amongst them, exchanged congratulatory hugs and handshakes. An emotional Teo Ser Luck was seen choking back tears. As the Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, Mr Teo has been at the forefront of Singapore's bid to host the Youth Olympic Games.
Addressing the audience, a visibly delighted Prime Minister Lee said that "it was a national effort, but more than that, it was a people's effort." He honoured the youths, corporations and even taxi drivers, one of whom, he revealed, wrote a letter to the IOC members detailing why he thought Singapore should win. He also paid tribute to Singapore’s bid committee, in particular Mr Ng Ser Miang, IOC member, who “travelled round the world making friends,” and Mr Teo Ser Luck, whom the Prime Minister said had been "living, sleeping, dreaming 5 circles."
Speaking to the media after the event, Mr Teo said that the feeling was "indescribable." Asked why he thought Singapore managed to pip Moscow, Mr Teo paused before venturing that "we stood by the ideals and values of the Olympics." As for what Singapore might gain from hosting the first Youth Olympic Games, Mr Teo said that he hoped it would "kickstart the sports culture in Singapore." He also hoped that the games would "bring up brand awareness of local companies, especially SMEs." Mr Teo said that his Ministry’s first priority would be to set up the organising committee, probably chaired by Mr Ng Ser Miang. As to how Mr Teo intended to spend the rest of his evening: “I’m planning to have my teh tarek tonight, and enjoy some peace.”
The Youth Olympic Games will be held in Singapore in August 2010, and is expected to bring in some 3,200 athletes aged 14-18, participating in 26 sports.