YOG – The story from the other side

Today is the opening ceremony of the first ever Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. I’ve lost count of the number complaints about YOG from Singaporeans. Some are unhappy that they need to give way to the YOG bus or face heavy fine.
I never understand why the need to host YOG. Singapore is never strong in sports. Most of our athletes are foreign talents that we bought with money. So I never understand why we need to host the YOG.
Until I saw this article written by Ridz‘s friend.

Giving way for 2 weeks – Thoughts about YOG
I guess we have seen lots of complaints about the YOG everywhere. Be it on blogs, newspapers, ST forum, etc. What’s the big deal about YOG? Why is Singapore spending so much on it? Do we really care about it? Is it just another big wayang? Why must we give way to the YOG buses? And what’s with the Olympic lane? Aren’t our roads not congested enough?
Frankly, from the day Singapore showed it’s bid for the YOG, I was a cynic. What’s the big deal? It is something for us to feel good about, since we can never be an Olympic host city? Hype? What hype?
Over the past month, I was proven wrong slowly.
For the past month, I’ve been attached to a secondary school. And it was then I begin to realise what YOG is doing to our youths. Many of them, I wish you could be there to see it for yourself.
I wish you could be there to see how sports seem to have a greater relevance to the students now. Each school is twinned with a country for a few years already, and they have been having exchanges. My school, for example, hosted students from their twin country last year, and had a friendly match. Without this exchange, I doubt many of them will even know this country existed, and thought that the country is just “African”.
I wish you could be there to see the pride the students have, when it is made known that 2 of the students are selected to be torch bearers of the Olympic flame. I do not know the torch bearers, nor have I met them. But when this news was announced to my students, I can’t describe the amount of pride they felt that their peers are holding such a responsibility, even though many of them don’t know the torch bearers personally.
I wish you could be there when the students were told that there are free tickets to the YOG games. Even though it is held on weekends, even though it wouldn’t be an excuse to miss school, I wish you could be there to see the excitement they have and how much they want to go for the event when given the opportunity to watch this events. This was even before they were told that they will receive a free commemorative EZ-link card to cover the transport cost for the day. How I wish there could be more tickets for them, as a total of around 100 tickets is given over 4-5 events for a school of 1400.
Now you might think that YOG may have hyped up the sports, but what about the other students who are not interested or involved in sports? What about them, other than the cultural exchanges?
I wish you could be there to see my students who are part of the Military Band. They have been selected to perform for the YOG opening ceremony. They pride the hold, the commitment they give to the long hours of practices and commute to the floating platform, the weekends burnt – you have to see it for yourself to know what I mean.
I wish you could be there to see some of the FB exchanges, of my ex-students and kids, who are involved in the performances for the opening ceremony or YOG related events. Some of the things they love, such as cosplay, break-dancing, have been demonised and marginalised by their parents and other adults. Finally, they have a platform to show them that there is nothing wrong with it, and hopefully, let them have a better understanding of what their passion is about.
I wish I could tell you more, and I’m sure you’ve heard of such non-sports exposure related to the YOG.
But if it aren’t clear to you, YOG is a platform and a catalyst for many aspects of development for our youths. It gives them not just a platform to display, but a platform to learn, to show, to benchmark, and a platform to be proud of. And as I’ve shown, it’s not just for the sports people or the sports super-stars.
I may be exaggerating, but this can very well be a monumental event for many of our youths in Singapore, regardless if they are involved directly, indirectly, or not at all. It could very well be the common memory of their generation.
I guess sometimes, we adults use the acronym in YOG so much that we forgot what it stands for. YOG starts with the word YOUTH. How come we’ve forgotten that it is all about the YOUTH. If we adults don’t feel it, or feel the relevance of it, why should it be a surprise, since that it is mainly for our youths? And I’m not even talking about the cliché benefits, such as the Olympic values or those who are competing for from our youth volunteers interacting with different cultures around the world etc.
And since it is for our youths, is it still asking for too much, to give way for the 2 weeks, in exchange of a catalyst, a platform, and a lifetime memory for our future generation?
I know, cause my year-end holidays has been cut short by 2 weeks, and my school term has been pushed back by 1 month to host the YOG. As much as I grumble sometimes, I’m heartened by what I’m exchanging these for.

Note that the note is a personal opinion by the author based on his observation. It is not written by me hor.
So have your impression of YOG changed after reading this? I have.


  1. Thanks for sharing this Dk. I think we have sometimes grown so jaded and cynical as adults that we no longer appreciate the tenets of sportsmanship, cheering for your school, and camaraderie that youths pride themselves on.

  2. So what? They would not have needed to spend $378 million for this. Just seems like some PR exercise in a media desperate to give the event a buzz.
    Frankly most of the students I talked to (I work at a tuition center) are quite fed up with it and just wish it did not happen.

  3. @Sam – I feel sad for the students you talked to. The students that are feeling fed up with it. Is it because it is eating away at their free time or time that could be “better” used for other purposes?
    If only more people could see what they’re giving up is the chance to be part of history in the making.
    Perhaps it’s the case where we are so focused on the pragmatics that we don’t stop to take in the immensity of this event.
    Lots of people are complaining about how we’re “wasting” resources and money on hosting YOG, resources and money which could be used to benefit the needy in Singapore.
    To this, let me give you an example. Let’s say you have $5 and you have a choice of giving that $5 to a needy person, or $2 to a needy person, and invest $3 to receive another $5 profit tomorrow (which you would then have the opportunity to give to the needy person). Which choice would you make?
    If you give it right now, the needy person would have $5. Tomorrow, they would be back to nothing.
    If you choose option B, the needy person would have $2. Tomorrow, they can receive $8.
    I’m not saying either option is “more correct”. I’m just saying that a decision has to be made and the pros and cons of each are weighed properly. There is of course, some risk in the option B, i.e., you may not make the additional $5, but you’ll have to make a calculated risk.

  4. Well, of course there are some students who are happy about the opportunity to perform. But most students are not in such performing groups. The question is whether it’s worth forcing the disinterested to attend the events.
    In secondary school and JC I was forced to attend sporting events as well to ‘support’ the school, and I can definitely say that I could and would have spent the time better. I was a sportsperson myself, so it’s not as though I couldn’t see the value in sporting events, but I would rather have saved my time for other interests. I don’t think it’s fair to negatively judge people who, say, aren’t interested enough in the World Cup to watch it if it was in hosted in their country, just as it isn’t fair to negatively judge people who don’t find it worthwhile to attend a concert of your favourite musician. People have different interests and tastes, and I see no reason to think that one interest (sports) should override the rest.

  5. Great share. I was one of the cynical people but was at ECP today and looking at the cordoned off area, I imagined the triathletes running through to the finishing line, and gotta admit I did feel excited and keen to go down to support them.

  6. All the student mentioned could be achieved otherwise. The money spent is the main issue. Students exchange could always be done via other means eg conferences, we have other festivals, like the Youth Day to show case and involve our students. The key point is the money spent and the agenda behind why this YOG is organised. The agenda is personal.

  7. Rubbish. History in the making? For what? Look at the websites for every major news org and the YOG hardly even registers.
    The students would benefit more if the funds were used towards them helping the socially disadvantaged.
    Someone has obviously been drinking the Kool-Aid.

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  9. I agree. Yes its for the youth.
    I agree. Yes we should just let them have this 2 weeks of fun and pride.
    HOWEVER at the cost of close to $400 million? That’s an expensive 2 weeks considering that many older generation S’poreans are without a proper medisave and there are some old folks who dig dustbins for cans and cardboard to recycle.
    So why not hold a “OOG”. Old ppl Olympic Games?
    Seriously lah get some damn priorities mate.

  10. I have no complaint against the YOG in theory. In fact, I think it is positive that the youth have a platform on which to showcase their skills, and that it is good that so much emphasis is now being put on the youth, so that they are no longer just relegated to the background.
    However, I still find it very difficult to feel enthusiastic or happy about the YOG in Singapore.
    From the way the media has been harping on about it, portraying it as the Biggest Event Ever in Singapore, it seems like much of the emphasis is being put on how it’s such a great thing for Singapore, how Singapore has put on an awesome show, how it is going to make history in Singapore; Singapore, Singapore, Singapore.
    We are now just glorifying Singapore, and the focus on the youth athletes seem to be nothing more than an afterthought. Is that really fair?
    Also, with stories of students being “forced” to attend and look excited, volunteers being given bad food and being generally unappreciated, Singaporeans being told to be “spontaneously excited” and to give way on already congested streets, etc. etc. it is hard for anyone to develop any good feeling for the YOG.
    Yes, it is great for the youth who have a chance to shine. But surely they can have a chance to shine without the people being so put upon at the same time?
    .-= kixes´s last blog ..History-filled nostrils =-.

  11. I feel that the YOG in theory, is a good chance for us to showcase our young talent, and to inculcate a spirit of sportsmanship for the next generation. I do not argue with the tenets of the YOG, which is in line with the Olympic ideals. It is a noble cause. I will support and cheer our atheletes on.
    HOWEVER, I do not agree with the bloated budget that was needed to run this event. Honestly, $387 MILLION? And hardly a whimper in the international media? Is it worth it? I think we could have done it with the original budgeted amount. The kids would still have their fun, and the Olympic ideals still upheld.
    This is turning into a public relations disaster for the PAP. By grasping at the straws of international fame (which it apparently has failed miserably), it has sought the wrath of the citizens of Singapore. Small measures like “Give way, please” instead of “Give way” would have gone a long way in softening the harsh criticisms of the YOG.
    The whole event smacks of an elaborate set-up to show the world how wonderful Singapore is. Really, we don’t need to do that. They already know that we have a first-rate Third World style of government that practises one-party politics. We are a great financial hub where there is no freedom of speech.
    We are a great nation under Lee. No country is perfect, it is true. The PAP has done its fair share of good deeds in transforming the country from backwater to bustling city.
    Now we must transform ourselves into a true First-World country where human rights are respected. This is yet to be seen, and may not be a reality if the PAP hangs on to power and conducts itself in the manner it is doing now.

  12. @Kelvin:
    You argued that the YOG is an “investment” for the future. Please elaborate why you think so, with proof if possible.
    For the life of me, I cannot see how this will possibly benefit us beyond the end of this year. It looks like a one-off thing that most of us citizens would like to forget and move on with our lives.

  13. You know what strikes me as I read this so called blog post by this convenient “Ridz’s friend”.
    It’s very SPH-worthy.
    Oh not in the “wow it’s such a brilliantly written piece of journalism that it should be published” kind. Rather, it reeks of the usual ham-handed writing that the state-controlled press has been churning out for the past 4 decades or so.
    The piece is such an archetype of our Uniquely-Singapore brand of journalism that the formula is so familiar. If it is indeed sincere and heartfelt, then I see it as yet another example of the mind-numbing degradation that ST has been subjecting our people to over the years.
    Starting off with the signature statement of conversion, “Frankly, … I was a cynic… ” quickly followed up with a punctuated single sentence of “Over the past month, I was proven wrong slowly”, the national fist-pumping begins.
    Every word that follows is selected with care to shore up the flagging administration and the growing roll call list of screw-ups, puffed up with vague references to people and societal groups who have experienced and gone through the same but possess of a different nay, IDEAL mindset that such inconveniences are to be expected and in fact, enjoyed in the name of doing their best for country and society, but without the benefit of actual names and specific instances because… we don’t want to “name and shame” or because they’re not real?
    Note too the personal statements of appeal that smacks of the official agenda policy, with mild rebukes exhorting you to remember that your personal gripes and complains are just not welcome; to recall that this event is for the youths, it’s a platform, it’s a history-in-the-making moment, hell it even ends off with a fervent expression of how the writer has also sacrificed his/her own time and effort but finds it all worthwhile in the name of nation and government brand building.
    You could almost hear the strains of the National Anthem welling up in the background.
    My cynicism stems from the fact that such a “well written” piece could definitely have included and benefited from the naming of the school, even if the writer wished to remain anonymous. It’s such a glowing recommendation and reflection of the rah-rah the Singapore government officials is so desperately trying to achieve. One just needs to take a look at the spreads of fawning media pages dedicated to Low Wei Jie to know that ground support is indeed few and far between that one little boy who shows his interest finds himself a proclaimed national hero the next day.
    All in all, another timely and trite piece of ghost writing.

  14. Looks like you know who is astroturfing the net trying to drum up support for YOG and the millions blown on an event no one in the world really cares about.

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