Winter Youth Olympics: Jacques Rogge on the dream behind the Games
Winter Youth Olympic Games
- Innsbruck, Austria
- 13-22 January
- Alpine Skiing (14-21 Jan), Biathlon (15-21 Jan), Bobsleigh (22 Jan), Cross Country (17-21), Curling (14-22), Figure skating (14-21), Freestyle Skiing (14-20), Ice Hockey (16-19), Short Track (18-21), Snowboarding (14-19)
- Daily 60 min highlights programme on BBC Red Button, 1900 GMT; reports & video on BBC Sport website; British Olympic Dreams special on 28 January, 1300 GMT, BBC One.
Most people around the world know him as the man who opens the Olympic Games.
He is a man whose role dictates that he "declares" and "announces" and he looks fittingly stern, yet when I met Jacques Rogge on the first day of the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, he was anything but.
Instead, the president of the International Olympic Committee proved warm and welcoming in the freezing but stunning setting of Seefeld.
These Olympic Games for teens are his brainchild and something he has been working on since taking over the IOC presidency in 2001.
''It is a golden opportunity to give good cultural education to young kids," he says.
"Sport is about much more than performance. Sport is about behaviour. Sport is about education. It is the education part that we wanted to highlight.''
Rogge's own sporting and Olympic pedigree is impressive.
A Belgian rugby international, he was also a world championship-winning sailor, and competed at three summer games.
"I'll never forget my first Olympics," he says. "There I was marching with the Belgian team to enter the Olympic stadium in Mexico and I came out of the dark tunnel to roaring sunshine and 80,000 Mexicans shouting and chanting."
His obvious pleasure in this memory is clearly a large part of the reason he is so adamant that the world's best young sportsmen and women should have their own Games.
And, when I ask which winter sport he would have liked to compete in, he immediately responds with a glint in his eye: ''I would choose the downhill - because of the thrill.''
When not thrill-seeking as a sportsman, Rogge's professional life has been spent as an orthopaedic surgeon, and he admits that both sides of his career have equipped him with the skills needed for his current role.
As IOC president, he oversees more than 200 national Olympic committees and has to deal with scourges such as doping and the rise of illegal betting in sport.
It helps, he says, that he has always been a problem solver.
"Being a former athlete teaches you what the athletes feel about what they want - what their needs are, their hopes, their expectations, sometimes their despairs and their sorrows.
"Being a surgeon has taught me to how to listen to people, to make a diagnosis, to start with a treatment or measures."
And, despite all the stresses, it is still a position he very much enjoys.
"It's a very harassing job with a lot of travelling and a lot of meetings but then you have these magical moments like here - a sports venue, the magnificent site of Seefeld watching women's ski jumping - and that's the reward.''
He has been described as the most powerful man in sport but it is an idea he bats away.
"I'm a humble, modest man. I'm trying to do my best. I love what I do. It's a great privilege to be able to preside over the IOC. It gives you the opportunity to implement in sport your dreams and your desires.
"I don't feel powerful. I have influence, yes, but no power.''
London 2012 will be Rogge's last Olympics as president.
As he closes the Games, amid his own emotions and what he hopes will be satisfaction at a job well done, he will also be providing his evaluation of the London Games.
I was curious to know when he writes that crucial little bit of his closing speech.
"In the last three days before the closing ceremony," he says. "I interrogate the athletes first and I ask their advice, and then the coaches, the officials, the media people, and the sponsors. I gather information and from that comes the formula."
And he promises chairman of the organising committee Sebastian Coe will know before we do.
So, as the Olympic flag is lowered in Stratford, reverently folded and handed over to Rio, Rogge will begin his own Olympic handover. What does he want his own legacy to be?
''I'm not a legacy man," he laughs. "People speak about legacy when you're dead - I'm not in a hurry.''