Young athletes share their love of sport as Lillehammer 2016 gets off to a spectacular start

The Opening Ceremony of Lillehammer 2016 got the second edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games off to a spectacular start tonight at the Lysgårdsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena, the same venue that hosted the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer in 1994. 

In a nod to Lillehammer’s Olympic past, as well as to the youth and future, the YOG cauldron was lit by HRH Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway. Exactly 22 years ago to the day, the 12-year-old Princess’s father, HRH Crown Prince Haakon, lit the same cauldron in 1994 to kick off Lillehammer’s first Olympic Games.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach addressed the athletes taking part in Lillehammer 2016 directly, saying: “These Games will be about your love for sport. They will also be about learning and sharing and about making new friends. This is what the Youth Olympic Games are all about: bringing young athletes together from all around the world to enjoy competition and friendship.”

The vision of the Youth Olympic Games is to inspire young people around the world to participate in sport and live by the Olympic values. As such, President Bach called on five of the athletes – Rachel Elizabeth Olivier (RSA), Kai Xiang Chew (MAS), Julia Moore (AUS), Britta Sillaots (EST) and Justine Brasseur (CAN) – to describe what the Youth Olympic Games mean to them, inviting them to share their feelings with the world using the hashtag #iLoveYOG.

The #iLoveYOG campaign has already been a resounding success, with thousands of athlete and fan photo contributions since the campaign launched. These images are being collated to make the largest photo mosaic in Youth Olympic history to be revealed at the closing of the Games. Fans can follow the campaign at

The Opening Ceremony, which was directed by 34-year-old Sigrid Strøm Reibo, marks the start of 10 competition days for the 1,100 young athletes from 71 National Olympic Committees taking part in Lillehammer 2016. It tells the story of the journey of a young boy from his beginnings as an athlete who lives and loves for the joy that sport brings him.

According to Lillehammer 2016 CEO Tomas Holmestad, the idea behind the ceremony was to “create an inclusive, fun, cool and touching ceremony with a satirical look at Norway and what it means to be Norwegian.”

Olympic champions were on hand to support the celebrations, with YOG Ambassador and figure skating Olympic champion Yuna Kim serving as an Olympic flag-bearer, and six-time Olympic gold medallist cross-country skier Marit Bjørgen (NOR) carrying the Olympic flame into the stadium together with 19 young Change-Makers from all over Norway. The torch was then passed on to HRH Princess Ingrid Alexandra. During the Games from 12 to 21 February, the Change-Makers will represent the 19 counties of Norway. They were selected from more than 400 nominees, and are all volunteers in their local clubs or sports associations, chosen for their inspirational activities using sport in their communities. The Change-Makers are just one of several youth empowerment and training programmes for these Games that illustrate the commitment to human legacy and youth sport across Norway. For more information on the legacies of Lillehammer 2016, click here

In an Olympic first, the IOC is bringing the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lillehammer 2016 to life through virtual reality (VR) coverage. With the support of Worldwide TOP Partner Samsung, the Opening Ceremony was the first ever Olympic Ceremony streamed live in VR. VR will also be available throughout the Games with daily VR sporting highlights. In order to access the VR content from Lillehammer, viewers will need a Samsung phone and compatible VR gear. Visit on your mobile phone for a direct link to the Youth Olympic Games VR experience. The Opening Ceremony was produced by Olympic Broadcasting Services and available live on and to Olympic Rights Holding Broadcasters.

Click here for the full speech of IOC President Thomas Bach

Picture credit TEAM GB