Bubka: Olympics can save a generation

Former pole vaulter Sergei Bubka is running to be president of the International Olympic Committee.

Story highlights

  • Legendary pole vaulter Sergei Bubka says the Olympics can save a generation
  • Bubka is bidding to become International Olympic Committee president
  • He says sport can help children away from developing health problems
  • Bubka also says Olympic sport must build on equality of London 2012

The Olympics must use its global reach and immense popularity to help save a generation.

That's the mantra from one of the men bidding to become to the next president of the International Olympic Committee -- Sergei Bubka.

The legendary Ukrainian pole vaulter, who won Olympic gold and broke the world record 35 times, says sport must act now to pluck today's youth from the clutches of health problems.

"We need to save the generation," Bubka told CNN World Sport ahead of the start of the World Athletics Championships in Russia on Saturday. "We need to bring them to sport.

Read: Gay, Powell test positive for banned substances

"Today they have so many different interests. They have so many distractions, and we see a lot of health problems: obesity, diabetes.

"And we need to encourage them, not just to play sport in front of the TV, to use social media computers. We need to use this to engage them to sport, to make their lives better.

More to Brazilian economy than sports
More to Brazilian economy than sports

    JUST WATCHED

    More to Brazilian economy than sports

MUST WATCH

More to Brazilian economy than sports 02:01
PLAY VIDEO
Gabby Douglas: I've made big sacrifices
Gabby Douglas: I've made big sacrifices

    JUST WATCHED

    Gabby Douglas: I've made big sacrifices

MUST WATCH

Gabby Douglas: I've made big sacrifices 02:29
PLAY VIDEO
Gay athletes stand up to Russia
Gay athletes stand up to Russia

    JUST WATCHED

    Gay athletes stand up to Russia

MUST WATCH

Gay athletes stand up to Russia 03:15
PLAY VIDEO

"When we look to the age of (our) sport audience it's around 50 years old; it means we need to work in this direction."

Bubka's passion is clear, as is his conviction that the outgoing president Jacques Rogge -- who relinquishes his role in September -- has done much to encourage youth participation in sport.

The Youth Olympics, which features participants aged between 14 and 18, debuted in 2010 and is now an established part of the calendar.

A key part of Bubka's manifesto is using modern methods to promote sport among the younger generation.

"We must go to the modern way, to use social media, to engage society, to engage the youth, to bring them with us to be active sportsmen," he said.

"This is a very important, key moment. This is a time not to lose a generation and President Rogge is leaving a fantastic legacy, and financially we are very healthy.

"It's now time to invest, to invest in the future, to integrate the movement to different parts of society. To change the life of the youths, and of course to continue to build a successful Olympic movement for the future."

To this end, Bubka acknowledges the huge costs involved in staging the biggest sporting spectacle on the planet provide a significant challenge for most modern hosts.

London's eventual spend was an estimated £9 billion ($13.9 billion) with the next host, Rio de Janeiro, setting aside $2.45 billion for its organizing committee and a further $10 billion to be spent by the government on infrastructure, according to its official website.

Bubka says it is vital to try and drive down costs so that the Games don't become an event that is out of reach for countries in poorer parts of the world.

"Of course the cost of the Games today and for tomorrow, for the future it will be prohibitive," he said. "We need to look not to exaggerate, not to expand the Games when it's become really heavy.

"For that we try to control the size of the Games, we try to control the cost of the Games to make them cheaper, and more possibility for different parts of the world to get the opportunity to host the Games and promote the values in different parts of the world.

"It's a very important issue and it will be one of the priorities for the movement."

Another priority is to stamp out cheating in all its forms. Athletics has been tainted by a string of doping scandals in recent weeks.

Former world champion Tyson Gay, from the United States, and Jamaica's Asafa Powell tested positive for banned substances in July, along with another Jamaican sprinter -- Sherone Simpson.

Usain Bolt: I try to clear my mind
Usain Bolt: I try to clear my mind

    JUST WATCHED

    Usain Bolt: I try to clear my mind

MUST WATCH

Usain Bolt: I try to clear my mind 01:52
PLAY VIDEO
'Unbeatable' sprinter: How I stay on top
'Unbeatable' sprinter: How I stay on top

    JUST WATCHED

    'Unbeatable' sprinter: How I stay on top

MUST WATCH

'Unbeatable' sprinter: How I stay on top 02:40
PLAY VIDEO
Usain Bolt channels inner Bob Marley
Usain Bolt channels inner Bob Marley

    JUST WATCHED

    Usain Bolt channels inner Bob Marley

MUST WATCH

Usain Bolt channels inner Bob Marley 03:05
PLAY VIDEO

This on the back of a failed test due to a banned diuretic from Jamaican Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown, who will also likely miss the world championships in Moscow depending on the outcome of her case.

Bubka is unequivocal in his stance.

"Regarding doping, of course it's a very sad, and very negative example," he said. "And in some cases we can understand it.

"The system, which is developing, and also the role of the international federation, of WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) is getting stronger and stronger. I can see this positive trend.

"We eliminate the cheaters. We protect the honest athletes. We will not keep any excuse to anyone. This is a very important issue."

In the wake of those glut of positive tests from his country, six-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt was quick to declare himself clean.

And Bubka says the fastest man alive sets a perfect example for others to follow. "Usain Bolt is an amazing athlete, it's unbelievable talent," he said.

"For myself, I first saw him compete in 2002 in Junior World Championships and already at that time I realized this is a future great, great champion.

"And of course for sport in general, and of course for athletics, he's very, very respected, and a very big champion and star. This is a really good model to promote sport and get used to follow good example."

        Sports spotlight

      • AG2R pair Peraud and Romain Bardet (right) thrilled the French fans with their performances on the 2014 Tour de France.

        When will French win Le Tour?

        Whisper it quietly, but after years of foreign domination the prospect of a French winner of the Tour de France is more than just a mere pipe dream.
      • Steve Way leads the in the Commonwealth Games marathon with the favorites massing behind him.

        From 20-a-day man to 26.2 miles

        Seven years ago Steve Way was a 20 per day smoker and weighed a hefty 104 kg, but he led the marathon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
      • The queen of the selfies

        After just one day of competition, a new sport has emerged at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow: snapping selfies with the Queen.
      • Joanna Rowsell is flanked by Australian duo Annette Edmonson and Amy Cure (right) after the medal presentation for the women's individual pursuit.

        Rowsell stands proud again

        Inspirational cyclist Joanna Rowsell added another gold to her growing collection in the individual pursuit at the Commonwealth Games.
      • GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JULY 23: John Barrowman performs during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

        Gay kiss steals Glasgow show

        At the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, an actor upstaged the Queen by kissing a male dancer.
      • Daniel Carter of the All Blacks in action during the Third Test Match between the New Zealand All Blacks and France at Yarrow Stadium on June 22, 2013 in New Plymouth, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

        Can the All Blacks make history?

        The All Blacks and their fans are focused on one thing, says Dan Carter: becoming the first rugby nation to win back-to-back World Cups.
      • FOR USE ON CNN PHOTO BLOG ONLY

        Three days with 'The Greatest'

        Photographer Danny Lyon spent three days with Muhammad Ali in 1972 and shares his best photos and memories of the champ.
      • SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 23:  Sidney Crosby #87 of Canada celebrates after scoring his team's second goal in the second period during the Men's Ice Hockey Gold Medal match against Sweden on Day 16 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

        Can ice hockey go global?

        With a growing audience boosted by the drama of ice hockey on show in Sochi at the Winter Olympics, can the sport capitalize on its popularity?
      • The first cover star of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, Babette March

        Swimsuit legacy: First cover model

        Her paintings may sell for thousands of dollars, but she is best known for a modeling shot 50 years ago that helped launch a business empire.