A Royal countdown to Lillehammer 2016 – one year to go!

Lausanne, Feb 12, 2015: Celebrations to mark one year to go to the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lillehammer 2016 were kicked off last night in the heart of the host city by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon of Norway as he unveiled the OMEGA countdown clock showing 365 days to go.

This ceremony was the start of several days of festivities in Lillehammer, Hamar and Gjøvik, the three locations that will host the sports and “Learn and share” activities during the Games from 12 to 21 February 2016.

During the unveiling of the clock, the Crown Prince was joined by IOC Vice-President Nawal El Moutawakel, IOC member and Chair of the Coordination Commission Angela Ruggiero, and Norwegian Minister for Culture Thorhild Widvey. Nawal El Moutawakel said: “This is truly a Games by young people for young people and a big thank-you goes to the tremendous efforts of the young and talented local Organising Committee. With its exciting sports and unique spirit, this will certainly be a wonderful and unforgettable YOG.”

Earlier in the day, El Moutawakel and Ruggiero took part in an action-packed programme that included a school sports day and a session on the ice, where Olympic ice hockey champion Ruggiero provided a coaching session to local youngsters.

Festivities will continue in the coming days with cultural spectacles in the region, a YOG-themed ice hockey match, and the “Sjogg Film Festival” in the centre of the city for the public to enjoy. Sjogg, the Norwegian word for snow, is the name of the Lillehammer 2016 mascot.

Lillehammer 2016 CEO Tomas Holmestad said: “Every one of the next 365 days now counts to making Lillehammer 2016 a huge success. We have an amazing team of young, talented staff and I know we will deliver a unique Winter Youth Olympic Games. We have an Olympic Games legacy under our belts, and now we will create the legacy of Lillehammer 2016.”

Lillehammer 2016 is the second edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games. The event will feature over 1,000 top athletes between the ages of 15 and 18 from over 70 countries. The athletes will compete in the same seven sports as those on the Olympic programme, with some new additions and different formats included. Monobob, snowboard cross and cross-country cross are new additions to the programme and the popular mixed-gender and mixed-National Olympic Committee competitions will also take place.

The athletes will participate in a Learn and Share Programme featuring fun and engaging activities designed to provide guidance on a wide range of topics, including the Olympic values, the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle, and ultimately how to be true champions on and off the field of play. —- IOC

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