January 18 - Gilbert Felli (pictured), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive director, has claimed that there are no concerns over the future of the Winter Youth Olympic Games despite Lillehammer being awarded the 2016 competition after coming forward as the only bidder.
The 2016 Winter Youth Olympic bid race turned out to be a huge anti-climax when the Norwegian city, who hosted a hugely successful 1994 Winter Olympic Games, turned out to be the only candidate for the event and although they still had to go through the formality of an election, with all the IOC members voting via a postal ballot, they were unsurprisingly announced as hosts of the event in Lausanne last month.
But despite the seeming lack of interest in the 2016 competition, Felli believes that more cities will be encouraged to bid for the event now that Innsbruck are staging the inaugural competition to a high standard.
"The IOC has no concerns over the future of this event," said Felli here at the halfway mark of the Winter Youth Olympics.
"We have now successfully hosted the first Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010 and so far we are hosting the first Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck very well.
"Other cities may have been concerned before these two events took place but now they have seen what the event is and they have seen that is can be a success.
"So cities now have more direction in knowing how to host the Youth Olympics and how you can stage a successful event.
"I think that fact will make cities much more willing to bid for the event in the future now that there is no uncertainty over what the competition is all about.
"We have Innsbruck here in 2012 and we have Lillehammer in 2016 so we have not concerned, certainly not in the short term.
"In the longer term, you can never say but we are very confident."
Felli also praised the efforts of Innsbruck 2012 so far and hailed the new events that are making their Olympic debut in the Austrian city.
Women's ski jump, ski halfpipe, mixed gender parallel team event in alpine skiing and mixed gender team relay in luge are all appearing for the first time on the Olympic programme ahead of Sochi 2014 and all four have so far proved a success.
"The new sports formats have been a huge draw in terms of attendance and have added real excitement to the Games," said Felli.
"The International Federations have truly embraced the Winter Youth Olympic Games and contributed to their success."
Of the 63 medal events at Innsbruck 2012, 30 have so far concluded and 117 medals have been won.
One of the most notable went to Morocco's sole athlete at the competition Adam Lamhamedi (pictured) who made history as the first African to win a medal at a Winter Olympic event when he took gold in the Super-G.
IOC President Jacques Rogge has also praised Innsbruck 2012 at the halfway mark.
"After the success of Singapore, it is heart-warming to witness a city come alive once again with the spirit of the Youth Olympic Games," he said.
"The local communities have come out in force to enjoy the high-level sports competition on offer, while international spectators have travelled from far and wide to show their support.
"In the five days of the Games so far, we have seen ski halfpipe and women's ski jump make their debut on an Olympic programme and the introduction of new sport formats, such as the mixed gender parallel team event in alpine skiing.
"All were received with great enthusiasm by spectators in the packed stadiums."
In total, over 1,000 athletes are attending the Games in Innsbruck, which are being staffed by 1,400 volunteers and covered by over 1,000 accredited media representatives from around the world.
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