BBC Sport | 20th Aug 2018 | 5
Buenos Aires | Youth Olympic Games begin
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The 2018 Youth Olympic Games began on Saturday, 6 October, with a spectacular street-party style opening ceremony in downtown Buenos Aires, with the sporting schedule staring the next day as the world’s best young athletes compete until the closing ceremony on Thursday, 18 October.
Buenos Aires welcomed the Youth Olympic Games with a spectacular Opening Ceremony in the streets of the city on Saturday night, centred on the Obelisk with fireworks and Pandi, the Games mascot.
You can follow the Games on the Olympic Channel at olympicchannel.com where there is a complete sport-by-sport guide to every event that will be streamed throughout the Games, as well as buenosaires2018.com.
There is also a live show, YOG DAILY, on Twitter and Facebook every day of the Youth Olympic Games at 13:00 Argentina Standard Time.
Perhaps the most dramatic moment was when the Argentine flag appeared at the top of the Obelisk and was walked down the side by a woman, accompanied by visual projections and special effects accompanied by the country’s national anthem.
Officially known as the III Summer Youth Olympic Games, and commonly known as Buenos Aires 2018, the forthcoming international sports, cultural, and educational event features 241 events in 32 sports and a total of 206 countries will send at least one athlete to compete in the Games.
The tennis event is being played at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, founded in 1892, and located in Palermo’s Green Park where 32 women and 32 men are in the hunt for medals in the singles, doubles and mixed doubles events.
All players must participate in each event and in the singles all matches are played to the best of three sets, with a tiebreak at 6-all. in every set.
The modern sport of tennis has a long Olympic history and was part of the inaugural 1896 Olympic Games. However, it withdrew from the programme after 1924 and did not return as a medal sport until 1988. Professionals are now welcomed to compete, and the Olympic competition (and now the Youth Olympic Games) includes men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles.
Each National Olympic Committee (NOC) can enter a maximum of 4 competitors, 2 per each gender while Argentina, as host, is given 2 quotas, 1 per each gender should they not qualify normally, and a further 6 competitors, 3 per each gender decided by the Tripartite Commission.
The remaining 56 places is decided by the ITF World Junior Rankings, ATP Rankings, WTA Rankings as of 16 July 2018.
The first 12 spots per each gender go to the top ranked athletes in the ITF World Junior Rankings.
The next 10 spots per gender go to any eligible athlete ranked in the top 450 in the ATP rankings for boys and the top 200 in the WTA rankings for girls.
Should any spots remain they will be reallocated to the top ranked athletes in the ITF World Junior Rankings.
The remaining 6 spots per gender go to the best ranked athlete from the ITF World Junior Rankings from any of the six regional associations not yet represented.
Should any spots remain they will be reallocated to the next best ranked athlete in the ITF World Rankings, regardless of region.
To be eligible to participate at the Youth Olympics athletes must have been born between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2003 and all qualified players will take place in the doubles and mixed doubles events.
The ITF is trialling two new rules at the Buenos Aires 2018 with the introduction of on-court coaching and the no let rule.
For the first time at any Junior tennis event, coaches are allowed to access the court once per set to offer players advice.
Coaches are not be allowed to bring on any food or drink and can only enter at a change of ends or at the end of a set.
Should a doubles pairing have two different coaches, only one of them will be allowed onto the court.
The no let rule, which means that play carries on if the ball clips the top of the net but still lands within the service box, has been trialled on the Juniors circuit all year.
Home favourite Maria Lourdes Carle was handed a tough opening round encounter against Colombia’s Maria Camila Osorio Serrano after the draw was announced on Friday.
Eighteen-year-old Carle will need all the support of the home crowd at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club if she is to overcome World No 6 Osorio Serrano.
The Colombian comes to Argentina on the back of a semi-final finish in the girls’ singles at the US Open and in a year when she has won five singles titles, four of which have come on clay.
Top seed Wang Xiyu starts her Youth Olympics with a first-round match-up against Japan’s Yuki Naito, while second seed Liang En Shuo is hoping to get off to a good start against Latvia’s Daniela Vismane.
In the boys’ event all eyes will be on World No 1 Tseng Chun Hsin, who has two Junior Grand Slam titles to his name this year, including a win on clay at Roland Garros.
The 17-year-old from Chinese Taipei takes on Dostanbek Tashbulatov in the opening round.
Tseng defeated Sebastian Baez in the final back in June and we could be set for a repeat of that match should the Argentine fulfil his seeding of No 2.
Baez plays Chinese Taipei’s other male player, Ray Ho, in round one.
Other boys to watch out for in the Youth Olympics are World No 5 Lorenzo Musetti, who arrives in Argentina after a runner-up outing at the US Open, and No 6 Nicolas Mejia, who reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon but is a very capable clay courter.
A total of 40 countries are represented across the two singles events but, sadly, there is no British representation in the tennis event this time round with Jack Draper, Aidan McHugh and Emma Raducanu having opted to compete on the pro tours following the US Open.