NANJING: Horse rider Hamad Al Qadi will lead the Qatari contingent during the opening ceremony of the second Youth Olympic Games, to be held at the majestic and colourful Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre tomorrow evening.
The Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre is the main venue of the quadrennial event, which was launched in Singapore in 2010 when Hamza Dariouch had won a silver medal for Qatar in 1,000m race.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will preside over the opening ceremony, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has already arrived in Nanjing and held meetings with several key officials in the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee (NYOGOC) to review the preparations.
Qatar’s Chef-de-Mission Eisa Al Harami informed at the Youth Olympics Games Village yesterday that the equestrian rider would get the honour to hold the maroon and white flag of Qatar during the parade by the athletes.
Qadi, gymnasts and shooter arrived in Nanjing yesterday and the handball team, which emerged as the Asian champions, will land on August 17.
The Youth Olympic Games are the brain child of former IOC president Jacques Rogge.
The IOC Executive Board embraced the idea quickly and welcomed it unanimously on April 25, 2007.
The house sealed its approval at the 119th IOC Session Guatemala City, creating the platform for all young athletes of the world to come and perform.
The mission of the YOG is to prepare young players as ambassadors of the Olympism, sports and healthy lifestyle so that others can be inspired by them and follow them.
Nanjinglele, the mascot of the YOG, has been inspired by Yuhua or the smooth and cute Rain Flower Pebble, which can be found naturally in all shapes and sizes in Nanjing. Lele means both happiness in the Mandarin Chinese language and sound of stones banging.
Since the ancient time, the Rain Flower Pebble has been recognised as a decorative and praised by the Chinese as a ‘national treasure bestowed from heaven’. Also the selection of the mascot portrays to the world the unique charms of Nanjing as a modern and green city that is showcasing nature and sustainable development.
At the unveiling of the mascot, Rogge heaped lavish praise on Nanjinglele.
“The design of Nanjinglele is truly inspiring and will certainly capture the attention of the world’s youth and older generation alike,” Rogge said.
“Not only does it incorporate aspects of the local majestic stone from the river but it is bright and vibrant and sets the tone of a fun, energetic and colourful YOG,” Rogge added.
Nearly 3,800 athletes, representing 204 nations, are expected to compete at the Youth Olympic Games, which are featuring 28 disciplines and will wind up on August 28.
Qatar’s 23-member squad will contest in seven disciplines - athletics, shooting, gymnastics, equestrian, table tennis, handball and swimming.
Last week, Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the Secretary-General of QOC, said about the Qatari team for the YOG: “We are extremely proud of all our athletes that are participating at this world-class event. To reach the Youth Olympic Games is a huge achievement and we are delighted to see so many of our country’s talented young athletes going to Nanjing this year.”
Sheikh Saoud added: “Their places at the Youth Olympic Games are well deserved, and are also testament to initiatives such as the Schools Olympic Program in which many of our athletes took part as an important step on their sporting pathway. Supporting talent from grass-roots right through to the elite level is a core part of QOC’s mission and today is a very proud day for us.”