International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge has decried the "screen tyranny" of digital entertainment, which he says is drawing kids away from sport.
A report in the Times Online says that despite youth-oriented marketing campaigns and the addition of sports like snowboarding and BMX cycling, the typical Olympic audience is getting older, while the advent of PCs, game consoles and television are resulting in increasingly sedentary teenagers. The average age of an Olympic participant is 24, but the average age of an Olympic watcher is 46.
"Kids are attracted to visual, interactive forms of communication. It's not going to be easy for sport to counter that," he said. "You won't hear me saying sport is not fun - it is. But it requires austerity and discipline. The answer is achievement. You will never achieve in a videogame. It is not really success."
As part of a campaign to draw the attention of young people to athletics, Rogge created the Youth Olympic Games, featuring competitors aged 14 to 18, which will debut in 2010 in Singapore. Rogge has asked each of the 3500 participants in the Youth Games to link personal blogs to Facebook, MySpace and other social networks in order to reach a wide audience of kids.
The 2008 Olympic Games are being held in Beijing, China. Along with BMX cycling, this year's Summer Games events will include trampoline gymnastics, badminton, softball and beach volleyball.