By Gabrielle Scheder-Bieschin | Oct. 06, 2018, 10:39 p.m. (ET)
Fireworks are seen over Avenida 9 de Julio and Obelisk of Buenos Aires to mark the end of the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Youth Olympic Games on Oct. 6, 2018 in Buenos, Argentina.

 

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – The host city was buzzing with energy as residents and athletes alike celebrated the opening of the Summer Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018.

In a country of sport, the Opening Ceremony of Buenos Aires 2018 focused not only on bringing a world-class experience to elite athletes, but also to the residents of the city. The Opening Ceremony took place outside on the widest avenue of the world, the Avenida Nuevo de Julio, and was open to all members of the public, which was a first for an Olympic or Youth Olympic Opening Ceremony. The ceremony may not have used a stadium, but it did use another national landmark; the Obelisco de Buenos Aires served as a giant projection screen throughout the show.

First hosted in 2010, the Youth Olympic Games were founded with the intention of inspiring young athletes, ages 15-18, to become ambassadors of Olympism through competition and culture. Now in its third iteration, the Summer Youth Olympic Games continue to grow, with approximately 4,000 athletes expected to participate in the 12-day competition.

The values of Olympism – friendship, respect and excellence – were incorporated throughout the ceremony, as athletes from nations across the globe walked in together. Youth Olympians from the U.S. mingled with the 205 other national teams as confetti fell from the sky, a fitting nod to the emphasis on cultural exchange and youthfulness at these Games.

“It is such a cool experience to be here with athletes from all over,” said sailor AnaClare Solé. “It is also really cool that were all the same age, which is unique to the Youth Olympic Games. I’m excited to be here for my sport, but to be here and meet people from all over the world and all different sports is so nice. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

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Of course, no Opening Ceremony is complete without the Parade of Nations. Representing the United States was rugby player Alex Cleary, who was voted as flag bearer earlier this week.

“Carrying the flag for our team is a huge honor,” said Cleary when he heard the news. “It means everything to me to be able to come here and represent our country.”

“It’s a great experience to see my co-captain, Alex Cleary, up there carrying the flag,” said Inoke Waqavesi. “We’re really proud to see him up there on the stage carrying the Stars and Stripes.”

Following the Parade of Nations and the raising of the Olympic Flag, a show highlighting Argentine culture began as dancers performed myriad tango styles to accordion music.

Bach spoke of the power of sport to unite and strengthen, highlighted by the story of the Thai soccer team that survived 17 days in a flooded cave this past summer – a team that was in the audience tonight.

“These Games are your Games. Every athlete is different – all come from different parts of the world and have different cultures. But we are all united by the Olympic values of friendship, respect and excellence.”

The ceremony concluded with the traditional Olympic Torch lighting in the middle of the athlete spectator section.