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Debrecen 2010 Youth Olympic Games Would "Take Over The Entire City" - GamesBids.com Q&A With Bid President

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On Monday, the IOC will release its short-list of candidates that will qualify to bid for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games to be held in 2010. Nine cities are standing by waiting for their chance.

Of the nine applicants, Debrecen, Hungary is one of the lesser known cities. But this - according to Dr. Pal Schmitt, President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee, IOC Member and President of the Debrecen 2010 bid committee - will be among the bid's biggest strengths. Schmitt explains in a Q and A with GamesBids.com.

GamesBids.com: What is Debrecen’s motivation to host these Games, and why now?

Pal Schmitt: It is a logical step for Debrecen to bid for these Games. Debrecen is nicknamed the “City of Youth” in Hungary because of its large academic platform (more than 25% - 60,000 - of its population is made of students below the age of thirty) and its extremely active sports life (for example, 12 international sports events have taken place in Debrecen over that last seven years). These two aspects brought together have made it clear to the Hungarian NOC that Debrecen has the knowledge, capacity and experience to be an ideal place to host this first edition of the Youth Olympic Games. The city is aware that it would never be able to host a Summer Olympic Games: the Youth Olympic Games would give it the opportunity to play an important role in the further development of the Olympic Movement and to utilize to the full its impressive selection of sporting venues, its academic institutions and its young vibrant population who would all enthusiastically co-construct this inaugural event with the IOC.

GB: What will Debrecen do to make these “first Games” special?

PS: The objectives of these Games are clear: more than just a sport event, the Youth Olympic Games have to be an educational platform for the youth of the world to learn about Olympic values and exchange cultural experiences, around sporting activities.

For this exchange to take place in the most effective way, participants have to be provided with a very compact plan so that they can all interact within one space. Debrecen is a city that can perfectly provide this intimate platform, as it plans to host all participants in one village that will be within walking distance of 95% of the sport and cultural venues.

In addition, because of its relatively small size and because of its long experience of mixing education and sport, Debrecen is the place where the Youth Olympic Games would make the most “noise” internationally. Indeed, the event would take over the entire city, and would not be “lost” in one area of town. This means that the entirety of the city, its authorities and its large base of volunteers would be fully devoted to its success, a success that is crucial for the IOC and the future of the event.

GB: How will a Debrecen Games help achieve IOC goals (i.e. get kids away from computers and participating in sports, etc.)?

PS: This can only be achieved in close coordination with the IOC and the NOCs from around the world. Debrecen wants to be a catalyst for broadcasting these messages internationally, but it will only be successful if the educational and cultural programme it wants to put in place is fully embraced by its various stakeholders. Debrecen believes that it has developed an exceptionally practical yet effective education and culture project for the Games, which will dovetail perfectly into the sporting programme. Debrecen looks forward to the opportunity to develop and expand this programme in conjunction with the IOC. We are confident that our ambitious but manageable plan will appeal to all those stakeholders.

GB: Is the general public supportive of this idea (are there any polls available)?

PS: We haven’t made a poll in Debrecen yet, but the Hungarian NOC conducted a survey throughout Hungary on February 16, 2007 with Szonda Ipsos Media, that showed public support in Hungary of 79 % for the idea of hosting the Olympic Games in the country. The voters believed that the organisation of the Olympics could be the biggest historical success ever for Hungary and would greatly assist in creating greater unity within the country.

The values of sport and Olympism have always been very strong in Hungary. The Youth Olympic Games would benefit greatly from this enthusiasm at all levels.

GB: The IOC is already very familiar with past Olympic hosts such as Athens, Torino and Moscow, so what strategy does the Debrecen bid committee have to familiarize the IOC with their city and their plans?

PS: Debrecen uses all the channels allowed by the IOC to make its plan known. The Rules are very strict, this is why Debrecen has tried to include as much information about its ideas in the candidature file, which is a document that is (compared to the Olympic Games) half way between the reply to a questionnaire and a bid book.

It is naturally hard for a city such as Debrecen to familiarise IOC Members with our strengths, our culture and our passions for the wellbeing of youth through sport. Their familiarity with cities that have previously hosted Olympic Games or IOC Sessions is naturally strong, but we believe that it will be a city’s strength in answering the very specific challenges posed by the first Youth Olympic Games that will provide the IOC with their trusted partner for 2010.

It is for this reason that we have tried to outline as clearly as possible the reasons that Debrecen could become that trusted partner. For an example of this, please refer to the first two pages of the candidature file (available on the website), the two pages called “our pledge” and “our commitment”.

GB: Should Debrecen make the short list, how will they campaign to the IOC members?

PS: Debrecen has no intention of outlining its campaign at this stage, but you can be sure that we will do everything that we can to convey our messages to the IOC, strictly within the boundaries of the very clear IOC regulations. Debrecen is also able to count on the enthusiastic support of its two Hungarian IOC Members who are heavily involved in the promotion of this bid.
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