August 01, 1998

Moscow Shines for Youth Olympics

In July, some 7,500 young men and women under 18 from 131 countries gathered in Moscow for the first-ever World Youth Games. Brainchild of Moscow’s ambitious mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, the Youth Games were a thinly-veiled attempt to show off Moscow as a potential site for a future Summer Olympic Games.

Luzhkov’s biggest coup was securing the blessing of the International Olympic Committee for the Youth Games. This allowed use of the Olympic logo in promotions and during the games, along with the phrase, "held with the patronage of the IOC." Media coverage for the games, however, was less forthcoming. Partisans in Russia’s media wars likely assumed that Luzhkov sought to use the Youth Games as an opportunity for nationwide (and worldwide) exposure. So television coverage was sparse at best--according to ITAR-TASS, on July 10, Luzhkov sent a letter to Yeltsin complaining that major Russian television stations were ignoring the World Youth Games.

But the most impressive achievement of the “House on Novy Arbat” (the mayoral offices) is that the games were conducted without a single kopek from federal coffers. It was revealed that sponsorships brought in some $22 million, but organizers were tight-lipped about the total cost of the games and the source of their financing.

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