Youth Olympics kicks off
Hundreds of thousands of revellers gathered in the streets of Buenos Aires to celebrate the opening ceremony of the 2018 Youth Olympic Games. It was the first time in any Olympics that the festival was a giant street party open to the public.
The third edition of the Youth Olympics will run till October 12 and promises to reveal the next generation of athletes, some of whom will go on to become global stars. Most are aged between 15 and 18 and they will compete in a total of 32 different sports.
“We all come from different parts of the world and have different cultures”, said IOC President Thomas Bach, “but we are all united by the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect. Guided by these Olympic values, each one of you makes a difference in sport and in life.”
Previous Youth Olympics were held in Singapore (2010) and Nanjing (2014). Some of the athletes in Buenos Aires 2018 will be showcasing their talents in the hope of going to Tokyo in 2020 for the next major Olympics.
There will be new sports on display in Argentina, with futsal, beach handball, karate and roller speed-skating all taking place, despite never being seen before at the Olympics. This year also made history by being the first Olympics to feature an equal number of male and female athletes, with roughly 2,000 each.
Budget boost for youth
Young people across Europe were given a budget boost by the European Parliament. More money will be pumped into the Erasmus+ programme and tackling youth unemployment in the 2019 budget approved by MEPs. The budget will of €166.3 billion is €700 million more than initially expected in a draft published earlier this year. Funding for Erasmus+ increases by €360 million, while academic research under the Horizon 2020 received a €257 million boost after years of repeated cuts.
In 2019 more than €500 million will be spent combating youth unemployment, which has been one of the parliament’s defining struggles in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash. Substantial sums will also be spent on immigration and asylum, supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, and public security. To make space for the increased spending on youth programmes and other areas, money has been cut from the accession fund for Turkey, as has aid for refugees in Turkey. By contrast the accession funds for the west Balkans was increased by over €50 million.
The budget is expected to be formally approved by the parliament and signed by the European president by the end of November.
Free year of study at Cambridge
Cambridge University is offering students from poor backgrounds who don’t meet the strict academic requirement the chance to study for free at the prestigious univerisity for one year. Vice-chancellor Stephen Toole made the announcement during a speech in which he pledged to dispel the perception of Cambridge “as a bastion of privilege and self-serving elitism”.
The free year of study will be provided to dozens of pupils from Britain’s poorest communities and has was described by Toole as a “transitional year” to prepare them for full-time study. “We give them the opportunity to get a leg up, to work with some of our academics, to make sure that if they are finally admitted into Cambridge they are really ready for the programme”, he said.
It will be funded by philanthropists and comes on top of a £500 million campaign to attract students from more diverse backgrounds. Both Oxford and Cambridge have been heavily criticised in recent decades for admitting a disproportional number of private school students with wealthy parents.