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Tokyo 2021 #1YearToGo

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UPCOMING OLYMPIC GAMES

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A sense of excitement is building on the eve of the Summer Youth Olympic Games here following a visit by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach around the impressive accommodation and facilities for the athletes.

While the facilities and atmosphere seemed equally as spacious and luxurious as those during the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi earlier this year, the distinguishing feature, as befitting the ambiance of the Youth Olympic, was the wide variety of cultural entertainments on show.

These ranged from stands and presentations to a group of Chinese dancers performing a routine which would have seemed more at home in Germany than in the Far East.

It was this latter theme which best caught the eye of Bach, who appeared enthusiastic and keen to speak to as many of the 3,600 athletes attending the Games as possible.

Joined by an entourage that included IOC vice-president Yu Zaiqing and Executive Director Gilbert Felli, Bach walked around the facility before finishing with dinner alongside the budding athletes in the Village canteen.

This included a meeting with a South Sudanese runner, Margret Rumat Rumar Hassan, competing as an Independent Olympic Athlete during the Games because the world's newest country does not have a National Olympic Committee.

He also visited the accommodation of team members from Guinea affected by the Ebola outbreak which has already caused Liberia and Sierra Leone to withdraw from the Games.

Delegations from Ukraine and Syria where among others Bach met, with the German, who won a gold medal in foil fencing at Montreal 1976, visibly delighted whenever he chanced upon an exponent of his former sport.

He also met athletes from his native German team, as well as others from Romania to Jamaica to Mexico, as well as a multitude of Nanjing 2014 volunteers, workers and entertainers.

Bach's enthusiasm for the Youth Olympics may be less strong than that of his predecessor, Jacques Rogge, but he remained lively and his usual quick-witted self throughout the visit.

On several occasions he also asked athletes their impressions so far, and every time his enthusiasm was replicated in their responses.

Bach, attending the first Youth Olympic Games since he was appointed President last September, completed his visit by attending a Welcome Event in the Square at the heart of the Village.

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