International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach sat down with Lewis Johnson in Nanjing to discuss the Youth Olympics, their potential impact on the Olympics and Rio de Janeiro’s preparation for the Games in 2016.
The Nanjing Youth Olympics marked the third edition of an idea coined by Bach’s predecessor, Jacques Rogge. The first Youth Olympics were held in Singapore in 2010, followed by the first Youth Winter Olympics in Austria in 2012.
“[Rogge] thought we have to do something for the younger athletes to make them familiar with the Olympic values, Olympic environment at an earlier stage than at the Olympic Games and to inspire more kids around the world to play sports,” Bach said.
Bach said he hoped that all of the mixed-gender events in Nanjing would serve as a test for men and women competing on the same teams in more sports at the Olympics.
Currently, badminton, equestrian and tennis have mixed-gender events in the Olympics. Figure skating, with pairs and ice dancing, has long been mixed gender. The Winter Games added mixed biathlon and luge relays for 2014.
“This is one of my darling subjects,” Bach said. “They are a great opportunity to develop women’s sports in smaller countries.”
Bach also expressed confidence in preparations for the Rio Olympics in two years.
“We see now things getting off the ground,” Bach said. “I’m sure Brazil will make it, because they know that they have no time to lose. But they see now the progress. They have confidence from having organized a good World Cup, and I’m sure in two years from now, we will enjoy an Olympic festival in Brazil.”
NBCSN coverage of the Youth Olympics continues Wednesday (7-8 p.m. ET) and concludes Thursday with the Closing Ceremony (6:30-8).