Pedro Adrega, FINA Communications Department

Imagine an access-free Olympic Opening Ceremony. Imagine you do it in the streets of a big city, not in a stadium. Imagine doing it in the Acropolis in Athens, or below the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Don’t imagine further. Buenos Aires did it! The organisers of the third edition of the Youth Olympic Games chose the Argentinean’s capital symbol, the Obelisk, to deliver a very visual Opening Ceremony. For the first time in Olympic history, the event was held outside a stadium and came to the streets of the organising city. And, also a première, everyone could gather for free in the iconic Avenida 9 de Julio to witness the show.

Respecting some fundamentals in an Olympic Opening Ceremony – the parade of the countries (limited to one flagbearer from each participating nation), the lighting of the torch, and the official speeches -, the event was essentially a popular celebration of sport and youth.

One of the first intense moments of the evening was the playing of the Argentinean anthem – while the country’s colours were visualised in the Obelisk, an acrobat was holding a giant flag and brought it from the top of the monument to the stage, at the bottom of it. The Obelisk was definitively the “protagonist” of the ceremony, with the projection and performance of several sports along the 71m of the monument. Diving, athletics, cycling or rowing were some of the sports displayed during the ceremony.

Another memorable moment was the evocation of one of the country’s most iconic cultural elements, tango. While the Obelisk was illuminated with references to this style of music, several couples were dancing it in one of the avenue’s building. 

At the end of the ceremony, a cauldron was lit at the bottom of the Obelisk, with the Olympic flame being carried by the nation’s most emblematic athletes, namely former tennis champion Gabriela Sabatini.

The tone was set for the 3rd Youth Olympic Games, taking place in the Argentinean capital until October 18. Aquatics is represented in the competition with Swimming (October 7-12) and Diving (October 13-18).