January 12 - Gerhard Lanz, Innsbruck 2012's head of events and Ceremonies, has revealed that the Opening Ceremony for the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games here tomorrow will be "cosy rather than spectacular" with organisers having made a decision to keep the event relatively low key.
At the inaugural Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010, the competition got underway in some style as the Opening Ceremony featuring an extravagant firework display on the world's largest floating stage in Marina Bay.
But Lanz said that the Opening Ceremony in Innsbruck, which will take place at the Bergisel Stadium, will not be looking to compete with Singapore in terms of size and scale, although he predicted that it will still be able to thrill everyone in attendance with its core focus on youth.
"There will be no gigantism at our Opening Ceremony," Lanz said.
"The key focus will be on youth and Innsbruck's intimate family values.
"It will be cosy rather than spectacular.
"One of differences between this and other Opening Ceremonies is that the vast majority of the people on stage will be either volunteers or local school children.
"Very few will be employed, like the local dancers.
"But there will be a lot of people involved and from the security, to the dancers, to the people organising transport to the event, there will be about 1,300 people actively involved in staging this."
The Bergisel Stadium, which lies on the hill to the south of Innsbruck and is famous for a battle in 1809 involving Napoleon, was originally built for the 1964 Winter Olympics to replace an older, smaller ramp.
It was also used for the 1976 Winter Olympics.
A new ramp was opened in 2003, designed by the architect Zaha Hadid, who is also behind the Aquatics Centre built for London 2012, as the old one no longer conformed to contemporary requirements of ski jumping.
Peter Bayer (pictured right with Innsbruck 2012 mascot Yoggl), chief executive of Innsbruck 2012, would not reveal how much the Ceremony has cost but indicated that there had not been a huge amount of money spent on it as there has been with those in the past.
"I don't really want to mention any numbers or the amount of money we have spent because we don't want get in the ring with the multi-millionaires," said Bayer.
"This Ceremony is just about seeing it and enjoying it and I'm sure everyone will."
Lanz said he was satisfied with the amount of money allocated for the Ceremonies although he admitted that he would always want more than the budget given to him.
"As the head of events and Ceremonies, the budget is never enough," he said.
"I could spend 1,000 per cent more than I was given but we are very happy with what we have come up with.
"The young athletes will be very involved and this is a Ceremony for them."
The event at the Bergisel Stadium will see a sell-out crowd of 15,000 in attendance to cheer on the 1,100 athletes at the event, aged between 14 and 18.
The competition runs from January 13 to 22 and Bayer claimed that 75,000 of the 80,000 tickets have now been sold.
"The ticket sales show great enthusiasm for our event but I want to emphasise that all of the events held in the open-air competition venues will be open to the public for free and will not require a ticket," he said.
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