By Tom Degun in Singapore

August 22 - Up to 17 countries, including from the United States and Africa, have expressed an interest in bidding for the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games, it was revealed here today by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Speaking at the midway mark of the inaugural Youth Olympics here, IOC Executive Director for the Olympic Games Gilbert Felli claimed that the IOC is delighted with how the Games have begun and said that there is a large variety of interest from countries wanting to host the competition in the future.

Among the cities to have already declared an interest are Raleigh in North Carolina while Abuja, the Nigerian capital, is also understood to be preparing a bid.

Felli said: "We have had discussions with the USOC (United States Olympic Committee) and some cities in the United States who have the idea for the winter or summer Games.

"One day, they would like to come with a bid."

The inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games will be held in Innsbruck, Austria, in early 2012 while the next Summer Youth Olympics will take place in Nanjing, China in 2014.

Lillehammer in Norway is far the only city to have expressed an interest in hosting the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics,  although other cities have until November 2010 to submit a formal bid.

IOC Director of Communications Mark Adams added that the IOC is emphasising the use of existing facilities for potential Olympic bidders which will make the Games more attractive to cities with smaller budgets that do not have the infrastructure to host a full scale Olympics.

He said: "It gives them a chance to participate, to take part in the whole Olympic ideal.

"That is why there is interest from cities which would probably never have thought of getting involved and could never see themselves as serious contenders for staging an Olympic event."

Meanwhile, IOC President Jacques Rogge stated that the Games have been a phenomenal success with education programmes, like talks with elite athletes, proving popular with the youngsters just as new sporting concepts at the Games like 3-on-3 basketball have.

He said: "So far everything is going smoothly and we’ve been very pleased with the organisation, the competition and the non-sport activities.

"While it is impossible to provide a full assessment of the Games until after they’re over, so far we are very satisfied."

The Games have proved particularly popular on the web following a broad social media campaign leading into the event with the Youth Olympics’ YouTube channel already having received three million hits which is higher than the traffic for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

The Youth Olympics also has 3,500 followers on Twitter as well as a popular Facebook page which is expected to attract more followers before the Games are over.

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