altAUGUST 2 - THE International Olympic Committee's (IOC) ruling Executive Board today shortlisted four cities to host the first Winter Youth Olympics in 2012.


They are Harbin in China, Innsbruck in Austria, Kuopio in Finland and Lillehammer in Norway.


Jacques Rogge, the President of the IOC, said: “We are very pleased to have four excellent shortlisted candidates for the first Winter Youth Olympic Games ever.”

The selection by the Executive Board was made on the basis of a study of the cities’ candidature files and related documents submitted to the IOC.
The study and subsequent report were conducted by a panel of experts including representatives of the Olympic Movement and specialists.
The panel assessed the risks and opportunities associated with each city’s project.
Based on the timeframe of three-and-a-half years available to host the first Winter Youth Olympic Games, the panel also placed strong emphasis on the level of quality and detail relating to technical aspects, thus giving an indication of the robustness of each project.  
The projects of the four shortlisted Candidate Cities will now be further assessed by an IOC Evaluation Commission to be appointed by Rogge.


The IOC Evaluation Commission will submit its report to the IOC Executive Board in November 2008.


On the basis of this report, the IOC Executive Board will recommend which shortlisted Candidate Cities will be submitted to the IOC members for election as host city.


Following a postal vote by all IOC members, the host city will be announced in December 2008.


Up to a 1,000 athletes will take part in the Winter Youth Olympic Games and compete in the Olympic sports.


The ages of the participants will vary between 14 and 18 years old with specific two-year age groups to be defined for each sport/discipline.


All young athletes will also participate in an attractive culture and education programme, highlighting activities linked to the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect.


Singapore will host the first Summer Youth Olympic Games in 2010.