About The Youth Games
In 2000, Commonwealth Games Scotland established the ‘Millennium’ Commonwealth Youth Games with the backing of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). The inaugural Commonwealth Youth Games were held in Edinburgh in August 2000, supported by funding from sportscotland the national agency for sport and the Millennium Commission. The event aimed to give athletes under the age of 18 their first taste of an international multi-sport Games, preparing them to compete in future Commonwealth Games. 733 Athletes from 14 countries competed in eight sports over three days.
Following the great success of Edinburgh, the second Games were held in Bendigo, Australia in December 2004 and saw over 1000 athletes and officials from 25 countries in a 10 sport programme. The third Youth Games took place in Pune, India in October 2008 where all 71 nations and territories participated in nine sports.
After 2008, the timing of the Games was moved from Olympic year to avoid clashes with countries’ Olympic preparations. The Isle of Man hosted the fourth Youth Games in September 2011 with athletes from 64 countries competing in seven sports. Samoa was the most recent host in September 2015 when 773 athletes from 65 countries competed in nine sports over five days.
Following the 2015 Games the timeframe changed once again, with the next Youth Games taking place in 2017 to occur the year prior to the main Games. The 2017 event will be held in the Bahamas and is set to be the largest Youth Games to date, with up to 1300 athletes expected to compete.
As was the original aim in the creation of the event, the Youth Games has played a key role in the career development of many athletes, who have gone on to international success. Scottish Commonwealth Games gold medallists such as boxer Charlie Flynn, swimmer Hannah Miley and gymnast Daniel Keatings, all had their introduction to a multi-sport Games at the Commonwealth Youth Games. International stars such as Olympic Swimming champion Jodie Henry of Australia, Olympic Heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill of England and Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya of South Africa, also competed in the Commonwealth Youth Games.
The Commonwealth Youth Games has grown in stature since its inception, so much so that the Olympic movement has now embraced the concept and there are now summer and winter editions of Youth Olympic Games.
Youth Games Format
The Commonwealth Youth Games programme is standardised, with the host city selecting a minimum of six and a maximum of nine sports, including team sports. Athletics and Swimming (long or short course) are compulsory and the other sports must be chosen from those classed as either core or optional by the Commonwealth Games Federation. The Youth Games also features Opening and Closing Ceremonies and includes a cultural programme run alongside the sporting action, to enable athletes to mix and learn about other cultures.
All competitors will be a minimum of 14 years of age and maximum of 18 in the year of competition (i.e, their 18th birthday is during the calendar year in which the Games is held). The number of competitors is capped, with each Commonwealth Games Association allocated athlete places based on representation at previous Commonwealth Games.
The Youth Games are now targeted to be held in smaller countries which are unlikely to be able to hold the full Games, thereby spreading events around the Commonwealth.