United Through Sports will host its Virtual Youth Festival in November ©UTS

United Through Sports (UTS) has launched the Virtual Youth Festival 2020 to avoid a cancellation of the event altogether due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Set to be broadcast online, the youth festival will bring Olympic and non-Olympic sports together under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Paralympic Committee, Special Olympics, SportAccord and the Global Association of International Sports Federations.

More than 60 organisations have worked together to bring a digital platform to qualification events taking place between this month and the end of October.

Finals will be hosted in Thailand in a hybrid event around the world, as part of the celebrations of the United Nations' World Children's Day between November 20 and 22.

This will include virtual medal ceremonies, Opening and Closing Ceremonies and virtual education including an opening conference, webinars, panel discussions and workshops.

"The current coronavirus crisis has proven that sport and an active lifestyle can save lives," said IOC President Thomas Bach.

The 2019 UTS Youth Festival took place in Australia ©UTS
The 2019 UTS Youth Festival took place in Australia ©UTS

"With its own campaigns, the IOC has been working since the beginning of the crisis to make it even more evident how important sport is for physical and mental health, in particular in times of lockdown, social distancing and uncertainty.

"The IOC is excited that the UTS Virtual Youth Festival 2020 is inviting youth of all abilities and backgrounds from the international sports community."

IPC President Andrew Parsons added: "Never has sport and the need to remain active been as important as it is now during the global COVID-19 pandemic due to the physical and mental health benefits its brings.

"The IPC through its patronage, fully supports this innovative festival that will engage youngsters of all abilities around the world and keep them active during this difficult time."

UTS President Stephan Fox said: "We must also understand that for many vulnerable youth, once the pandemic ends, they will continue to live in lockdown and in challenging environments.

"We want to create an event that is active and educational for all our youth and regardless to who is up on the podium, the Closing Ceremony will see the youth of the world come together for one global celebration."