The 1st Asian Youth Games Host City Contract was signed at the Downtown East on Friday, 14 November 2008. This marks a significant milestone in Singapore sporting history.
MAKE no mistake about it. The Asian Youth Games is an important event in its own right, and will not just serve as a test for the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympics.
Even though the AYG was first mooted as part of Singapore's YOG bid last year, it will bring more than just experience to athletes, officials and organisers, said AYG Singapore 2009 Steering Committee chairman Ng Ser Miang on Friday.
Ng said: "The AYG brings all the youths of Asia together. Not just in sports, but culture and education as well. It is very important that we do that."
Ng was speaking at Downtown East, where the host city contract and commercial rights release agreement signing ceremony was held.
The AYG will be held from June 29 to July 7 next year, with Downtown East set to be the Games Village to both athletes and officials.
It will see 1,000 athletes aged between 14 and 17 from 45 countries competing in over 80 events in nine sports - aquatics (diving and swimming), athletics, bowling, beach volleyball, 3-on-3 basketball, football, sailing, shooting and table tennis.
Singapore National Olympic Council president Teo Chee Hean said: 'The AYG will provide the opportunity for emerging athletes from Asia to meet and build lasting friendships through friendly competition based on the Olympic ideals of excellence, friendship and respect.'
Friday also saw the unveiling of the official Games logo, which has two overlapping star-bursts to signify the strong ties among Asian countries and symbolise sportsmanship. While the official slogan "Asia's Youth, Our Future", highlighted the importance of youths in the region.
The AYG Singapore 2009, jointly organised by the Ministry of Education and the Singapore Sports Council, will be the fourth multi-sport event to be hosted in Singapore.
With the exception of bowling, the other eight AYG sports will feature in the 2010 Youth Olympics.
Hence, the AYG will give athletes, officials, and organisers the opportunity to prepare for the YOG.
Ng said: 'The AYG and YOG teams will be working closely together, so whatever knowledge, experience and expertise gained from the AYG will definitely be passed on to the team that organise the Youth Olympics.'
The learning process will include observing how the Games Village is run and gaining hands-on experience during the event. Other key areas that will come under scrutiny include logistics, transport, security, medical services and anti-doping measures.
Even though the Asian Youth event is just 32 weeks away, vice-president of the Olympic Council of Asia Timothy Fok believes the first AYG will begin with a bang.
He said: 'While it may be a very short time to prepare for a major Games, the OCA is confident that Singapore, with its capabilities, will be able to put on a fantastic show.'
There is also optimism among the organisers that sponsors will be attracted to the event despite the current financial crisis.
Singapore Sports Council chief executive officer Oon Jin Teik, the co-chair of the AYG executive committee, said: "It doesn't necessarily mean companies will cut back in these times. In fact, every dollar invested in these times will run harder, better and further."
For Ng, hosting a successful Games will be the perfect way to show the OCA appreciation for entrusting Singapore with the chance to be the first hosts after 45 member-nations approved the award of hosting rights on April 6 this year.
Ng said: "We're trying to create a brand for the Games so it becomes one of the strong brands of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and subsequent organising committees can make use of this brand that's been established."