Guatemala City -- In a clear attempt to improve its international standing, the U.S. Olympic Committee has thrown its full backing to the Youth Olympic Games, the pet project of International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge.
The IOC members voted unanimously yesterday in favor of the new event, which would include summer and winter editions for athletes ages 14 to 18.
"We would like to offer our resources as well as our support," USOC vice president Bob Ctvrtlik told the membership during pre-vote discussion at the IOC's annual meeting yesterday. "We stand ready to assist whether in major or minor ways."
The United States recently has faced criticism for taking what some IOC members feel is an outsized piece of the Olympic financial pie but, in the minds of those members, giving little back to the Olympic movement.
Rogge has pushed the Youth Olympic Games as a means to combat declining sports participation and resultant obesity among teenagers and as a means to fight declining interest in the Olympics in the same age group.
The Youth Olympic Games would be a scaled-down version of the Olympics, although Rogge insisted they would "not be mini-Games but have their own identity, a blend of sport and education."
Rogge said that since the IOC executive board approved the project in May, a half-dozen cities already have expressed interest in hosting the first summer version in 2010.
The games would be held every four years, with the summer version taking place during the Winter Olympics year and the winter version in the Summer Olympics year.
The 2010 summer games would include all sports on the program of the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
Philip Hersh writes for the Chicago Tribune.