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May 26, 2011
Winter YOG city Innsbruck set to host next AIPS congress

(L-R) AIPS President Gianni Merlo, SMA Secretary General Joe Langer and SMA President Michael Kuhn. Photo/Markus Oberländer Courtesy GEPA-pictures
by Roslyn Morris, AIPS Secretary General

LAUSANNE, May 26, 2011 – Innsbruck, capital city of the picturesque Austrian state of Tirol is a hive of activity – more or less a city-wide construction site that is preparing for next year’s Winter Youth Olympic Games, and on a smaller scale the 75th Anniversary AIPS Congress (January 12 – 16, 2012).

The city’s convention centre which will be the main venue for the 2012 congress is being expanded, roads and tunnels are under construction and new hotels are springing up to accommodate the thousands of competitors, officials and spectators expected for the historic winter youth meeting.

Austria’s national sports journalists’ association Sports Media Austria, led by veteran journalist Michael Kuhn has just conducted its annual congress in the city which hosted the 1964 Winter Olympic Games, the first winter games for AIPS President Gianni Merlo and his Austrian colleague Wolfgang Winheim from Kurier newspaper. Innsbruck is no novice at winter Olympic events, having stepped in to host the 1973 games after a local referendum in 1972 quashed Denver’s Olympic aspirations. And next January history will be made in Tirol with the first ever AIPS congress held in winter.

AIPS president Gianni Merlo Tuesday outlined the latest developments in the international umbrella association to SMA congress delegates at the Austria Trend Congress Hotel in downtown Innsbruck.

Plans for the AIPS/FISU Young Reporters’ Programme to be conducted during the Shenzhen 2011 Universiade in August were presented with Merlo enthusiastically underlining the importance of educating the younger generation of sports journalists. “We must invest in our future and develop the culture of young journalists, many of whom will face an uncertain future,” Merlo said. Applications for the programme close on May 31.

Accompanied by secretary general Roslyn Morris and AIPS secretariat staffers Elisa Chiapparini and Marinella Caserini, the AIPS president met with the state’s promotion bureau Tirol Werbung’s CEO Josef Margreiter and Head of the Tirol Convention Bureau Christine Stelzer to discuss plans for the 2012 congress. The group visited the Innsbruck Convention Centre as well as a number of hotels where delegates will be accommodated in nearby Seefeld.

The first meeting of the 2012 Congress Organising Committee took place Monday in the newly-renovated Seefeld Town Hall. OC members include Chairman Michael Kuhn, Project Manager Bettina Haas, Josef “Joe visa” Langer and Fred Steinacher representing SMA, Markus Tschoner from Seefeld’s tourist office and Christine Stelzer who was a delegate at the recent Seoul congress.

SMA’s congress kicked off Monday with an introduction to the 2012 Winter YOG from the Austrian National Olympic Committee’s new secretary general Dr Peter Mennel. The former banker outlined the NOC’s new structure based on new statutes and transparency.

Delegates were given a preview of the European Volleyball Championships to be held in Austria later this year. A podium discussion with star guest ex-FC Bayern and international goalkeeper Sepp Maier focused on the upcoming football and handball European qualifiers. YOG 2012 head Gabriel Essar hosted a tour of competition venues and an evening discussion at the Seefeld Casino between former Swiss Olympic and World Champion downhill skier Pirmin Zurbriggen and Arno Staudacher, headmaster of the famous Stams Gymnasium on the development of young sporting talent gave much food for thought. A presentation was given on the American Football World Championships 2011, Austria.


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