Final preparations underway as Olympic flame fuels excitement across Switzerland
The Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Organising Committee outlined today, at its last meeting with the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Coordination Commission, the final preparations for the 3rd Winter YOG, just days after the Youth Olympic flame was lit and as it now starts its journey nationwide.
Undoubtedly one of the pre-YOG highlights, the 110-day Torch Tour now begins its journey through the 26 Swiss cantons and into Les Tuffes on the French border. The Tour will take the flame to 45 city centres and iconic Swiss locations to engage all corners of the country, and will promote the free access to venues to watch the best young athletes in the world. In addition to the sporting action, the ground-breaking “En Jeux!” festivals will allow spectators to try out the Youth Olympic sports. This will fill the venues – all of them existing, and designed to be innovative and sustainable – with a great atmosphere across Switzerland and neighbouring France.
Engaging young audiences through educational and sporting activities has been a key driver for the success of the Youth Olympic Games, and with just under four months to go to the Opening Ceremony on 9 January, the Coordination Commission was particularly impressed with the level of engagement with schools. Over 120,000 pupils have actively taken part in Youth Olympic-themed activities, from sports-themed cultural projects to inspiring workshops with a team of Olympic Ambassadors. The latest example saw 3,000 school children between the ages of 10 and 15 gather just days ago to celebrate the arrival of the Youth Olympic flame. The Lausanne 2020 team also outlined its plan to bring school children from across the Canton of Vaud to experience the Games-time schools programmes. To this end, Lausanne 2020 recently launched a special platform to give tens of thousands of school children in Vaud the opportunity to register to attend the YOG and to travel for free thanks to the Swiss Federal Railways.
The “En Jeux!” festivals are set to further increase this number significantly during Games time, with a free programme of events taking place across the country. These will include sports initiation activities, music concerts and cultural events – all being held alongside the sporting competitions. The party will, however, get started in the Flon district, the site of the medal ceremonies and the thriving area in the heart of the Olympic Capital that will host the main “Lausanne En Jeux!” festival, in partnership with the City of Lausanne.
With innovation and sustainability at the core of all Youth Olympic Games editions, Lausanne 2020 has capitalised on the world-famous efficient public transport systems that will be in place to bring not only spectators to venues, but also athletes and their delegations. This system was tested effectively by the Coordination Commission members, who made the journey from Lausanne to the curling venue in Champéry.
The Coordination Commission also paid a visit to the impressive Vaudoise Arena, the new home for the Lausanne ice hockey team and the venue for the YOG ice hockey events. Meanwhile, just a short metro ride away, the Vortex student housing complex, which will serve as the first Youth Olympic Village with all athletes “under one roof”, is due to be completed in the coming weeks.
IOC Coordination Commission Chair Danka Bartekova said: “From the very beginning, Lausanne 2020 set out to present the most innovative and sustainable approach to the YOG, from the use of existing venues and systems to the engagement of young people and their fresh ideas throughout the project. It will truly be a celebration of youth and sport across the nation and across borders.”
Lausanne 2020 President Virginie Faivre said: “We are so pleased to present the final phase of our preparation to the members of the IOC Coordination Commission. These last few days, the Commission members not only had the opportunity to hear details about the athletes’ Games-time experience; they also had the chance to see it for themselves. Our time spent up in Champéry provided insights into the unique Games that we are creating. We look forward to having the world’s athletes enjoy the Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020 in January.”
For fans around the world, the Lausanne 2020, IOC and Olympic Channel teams are working on creating an immersive and engaging Games-time digital experience. The Games-time website was launched last week, and will be followed by the official app in November. Digital tools are being created to allow fans and athletes to personalise and augment their content to experience the Games through their own eyes. The Winter Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020 will also be carried on traditional, linear television, as Swiss national television (RTS-SRF) will broadcast some of the competitions live.
Building on all of these programmes and initiatives, Lausanne 2020 promises to leave an outstanding sporting legacy, with new venues in place, such as the freestyle park in Leysin, the Vaudoise Arena and the Youth Olympic Village; the use of existing venues and expertise; and the human legacy encouraging more school children to take up sport. This demonstrates how the YOG can be used not only as a catalyst for development, but also as a global example for future host cities.
The Winter YOG Lausanne 2020 will take place from 9 to 22 January 2020.
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