Winter Youth Olympics end with festive closing ceremony

Lillehammer (Norway), Feb 22 (IANS) The 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games came to an end with a festive closing ceremony and the official hand over to the next host city — Lausanne.

Dancers and acrobats performed to live music as athletes, volunteers and other spectators cheered and danced in a jubilant atmosphere at the Sjogg Tent at Stampesletta here on Sunday, reports Xinhua.

During the ceremony, the Olympic flag was lowered and handed to the host of the next Games while live video also showed the Youth Olympic flame being extinguished.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach received the Olympic flag from Lillehammer mayor Espen Granberg Johnsen and passed it to Daniel Brelaz, mayor of Lausanne. The IOC chief, who declared the second Winter Youth Olympics closed at the ceremony, urged young athletes to spread the Olympic spirit following the 10-day events.

“And now when you go home, please take this Olympic spirit that you have shown here with you. Share this Olympic spirit with all your friends and communities. If you all share this spirit of friendship, understanding and tolerance with each other, then together we can make the world a better place,” he said.

A total of 1,100 athletes between the ages of 14 to 18 from about 70 National Olympic Committees (NOC) competed in 70 medal events during the Games from February 12 to 21 in the Norwegian cities of Lillehammer, Hamar, Gjovik, Oyer and Oslo.

Cultural exchanges, learning and sharing were also important parts of the Youth Olympics as the athletes were engaged in many cultural and educational programmes to help them foster Olympic values.

The Youth Olympics were established on April 25, 2007, on the initiative of former IOC president Jacques Rogge. The vision of the Games is to encourage young people around the world to practice sport, raise awareness of Olympism and encourage them to adopt the values of Olympism and disseminate the message of the Olympic Movement around them.

The first summer version of the Youth Olympics was held in Singapore in 2010 while the first winter version was in Innsbruck, Austria in 2012.

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