After seven days and the only world virtual youth festival, the UTS World Virtual youth Festival 2021 has come to an end. With a breath-taking Closing Ceremony from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Over the last seven days Saudi Arabia has been the centre for youth of all abilities coming together under the patronage of the IOC, IPC, SOI, SportAccord, GAISF and AIMS.
Far over 100 organisations joined forces with one mission, to promote inclusion, non-discrimination, equality, and the youth of the world standing together towards a better tomorrow. The event was opened by IOC President Thomas Bach, IPC President Andrew Parsons, CEO of SOI Mary Davis, GAISF and SportAccord President Ivo Ferriani, UTS president Stephan Fox and His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal the President to the National Olympic Committee.
Thousands of youths participated in the five diverse competitions, the Max Fit, Aero Fit, IPC inclusive Challenge and the SOI Unified Fitness Challenge and the Talent competition. While the kids were competing 4 live workshops and 6 conference sessions took place, on the virtual platform and where the leaders of sport and athletes of the world shared knowledge and discussed current sport-related topics. It was clear that the youth took the centre of all activities, with the IOC Young Leaders’ workshop and the UTS World Youth Ambassador workshop combined had over 30,000 viewers and participants.
The Opening Conference had speakers including Noble Peace Prize Winner Professor Yunus, 8th UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, His Royal Highness Prince Faisal Bin Hussein, founder of Generations for Peace and the list goes on. This conference welcomed over 12,000 participants.
The launch event was staged in the birthplace of Saudi Arabia, Diriyah, and representatives from the IOC, GAISF, and International Federations travelled to Saudi Arabia to participate both in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies to celebrate with the youth.
The festival was closed by the Director General and IOC Executive Board member Christoph De Kepper, IPC President Andrew Parsons, SOI CEO Mary Davis, and UTS President Stephan Fox, with the closing speech from His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal.
Mr. Fox made an emotional speech stating that this event represents Olympism at the highest level and that the youth of the world stand together in solidarity. He especially addressed the youth of Saudi Arabia, giving his respect for their strong participation, stating, “Saudi youth are cool and inquisitive kids, the future looks bright. To see yet again the IFs and their NFs working together was fantastic, we all witnessed how sport unites us all and how much we can achieve standing in solidarity.”
Saudi Arabia can be proud of this amazing festival showcasing true Saudi spirit and the vision 2030 to the world. The Deputy Prime minister of Uzbekistan and minister of Tourism and sport Mr. Aziz Adbukhakimov took the stage and announced that the Republic of Uzbekistan will host the 2022 and third edition of the festival which was applauded by the youth of the world who are now getting ready for 2022.
CEO of UTS, Julia Govinden thanked the youth of the world for participating in this historical event and their families for all the support stating, “This event has changed lives of many youths and in Saudi Arabia. The youth have been able to share their diverse talents on the international platform. We have been amazed by the immense talent and each event stands to represent how diverse the kingdom is. The participation in this festival says it all, and our efforts to give opportunity to all youth will continue.”
The event is not over, as over the next seven days, youth will be encouraged to continue to visit the virtual platform. Thousands of entrees came in for the Talent competitions and every day the winners of each category will be announced.
His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz thanked the youth of the world for standing together towards a better world, thanking the leaders of the sport community for supporting this event. It was a special moment for the young vibrant youth of Saudi Arabia to proudly receive medals on stage. The youth of the world will be sent their medals and certificates soon.