Ian Logan is the CEO of the Organising Committee for the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lausanne 2020. As he explains, the whole project is centred around the young generation, who are closely involved in the organisation of the YOG in the Olympic Capital, and whose achievements on the field of play will provide a source of inspiration for the “Switzerland of tomorrow” in terms of sports practice.
What is your vision for the third Winter YOG Lausanne 2020?
Thanks to the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020, there is this vision of “sustainability, credibility and youth”, and therefore a strong desire to engage with young people. We share this important message. We are lucky to be hosting the first Games of this rejuvenated movement. My vision is to position these YOG as a new project for young people, a project which relies on young people. Games that are organised with, by and for young people. And all this in co-construction with the IOC.
There is a strong element of legacy…
Once again, credibility, sustainability and youth is the strong message from the Olympic Movement. Credibility means intelligent governance. Sustainability is about more than just the environment; it is also the social and economic aspects. So the idea is to create Games which are sustainable in all three areas, and above all something that young people can relate to. For these Games, we are simply making use of what already exists, and we are using this as a means to create a springboard to other future achievements.
Can you give any concrete examples of this?
We are renovating venues not for the YOG, but thanks to the YOG, and to be used afterwards. For example, at Les Diablerets, a chairlift needed to be renovated for the 2022-2023 season, so the project was brought forward. Thanks to the Games, it will be replaced as early as this winter by a 10-seat cable car providing access to the mountain all year round. Another example is in Lausanne, where there has been a lack of student accommodation for decades. With the YOG, we were able to find private funding, and the “Vortex”, a huge circular building, will now be ready for students to use in July 2020. Before that, it will serve as the Youth Olympic Village for Lausanne 2020, and will accommodate all the sports delegations in January 2020. So we shall simply be the first tenants in the building. It has been built not for us, but for students. It’s not a case of building facilities and then waiting to see what happens afterwards. The model is finished beforehand, without us: everything is decided in advance.
My vision is to position these YOG as a new project for young people, a project which relies on young people. Games that are organised with, by and for young people.Ian Logan Director general Lausanne 2020
How do you organise Games which cross borders?
We went up in the sky. And from there, we looked at the layout of the venues on the ground; and we could see that, right next to the border, there is this incredible Les Tuffes stadium at Prémanon, which has the level needed to organise the competitions and years of know-how. It’s also no further to get to from Lausanne than Leysin or Les Diablerets. No-one had thought of this idea before. Thanks to the YOG, we are formally creating the bi-national aspect of hosting an Olympic event.
Prémanon was already the high-performance centre for Nordic skiing in France. The centre, which was already renovated in 2013, wanted to do a bit more, especially for the old ski jump stadium, which had been closed. Thanks to the YOG, it was possible to secure funding to rebuild the ski jump, with a view to using this for the future. In parallel, we have signed a 20-year Franco-Swiss cooperation agreement: Swiss Nordic skiing athletes will now be able to train at Les Tuffes. Another part of the long-term vision.
What about the competitions being organised in Graubünden?
The bobsleigh, skeleton and luge events will be held in St Moritz, at a venue that has already existed for over 100 years: the legendary natural ice track of the Cresta Run. And we are going even further by having the speed skating on natural ice, with an oval marked out on the frozen lake at St Moritz. I like to think of this as going “forward to the roots”. It is great that the ISU and the IOC immediately supported this project. In fact, this outdoor test is a real test for the future. In our candidature file, there was no bob or skeleton, as there was no infrastructure nearby. So following the same logic of not building anything new for the event, we looked for an ice track where there already was one. Once we had adopted this solution, we then had the idea of using natural ice for the speed skating, too, on the frozen lake this time.
What is the reason for your efforts to mobilise young people?
Two years ago, we hosted a big group of children, aged 11 or 12, for a presentation on the YOG. We showed them videos, and that was when I saw their eyes light up. They saw 16-year-olds doing half-pipe, figure skating and ice hockey. And these 16-year-old athletes are the same as them. So they went: “Wow, he’s my age. I can do that too!” That really opened my eyes. When young people speak to other young people, the effect is huge! Placing confidence in young people, getting them in sport for the long term: that is what we are doing with the animation, the design of the podiums, mascots, etc. Let’s listen to what young people have to say and have faith in them. We’re paying tribute to them. And inspiring them.
The Olympic Capital becomes an Olympic city…
I think that the general public still don’t fully understand what that means. When I first came to Lausanne, I could see “Olympic Capital” everywhere, and I didn’t understand what that meant. Since I’ve been doing this job, I’ve realised that Olympism is like a State. But without borders or countries. There are ambassadors everywhere, representing 206 NOCs in all the physical states. This State said, “I want my capital in Lausanne.” And that turns everything round. It’s not our city which is the Olympic Capital, it’s the Olympic Capital which is in Lausanne. And that’s a very big deal: Olympism decided to come to Lausanne. But now Lausanne is going to become an Olympic city. We finally have that exchange. It’s great to be able to write history like that, with all these international federations and organisations with their headquarters here. We’re going to achieve something incredible, as we are lucky enough to have everything here. The IOC, which has its home here, will be involved. “The Games are coming home.” This dynamism is growing. We’re going to do something brilliant.
Lausanne is known worldwide as a student town. How are you taking advantage of this?
Right from the start, the general idea was to rely on young people, and we managed to get all the higher education institutes on board. We’re proud to be working with the arts and communications school, Eracom, which offers dual training, whereby the students are at school one day a week and in a professional environment the other four days. The school has 800 students and 150 teachers for all the arts-related professions, from digital to dressmaking, animation, design and marketing. In one school cycle, from the autumn term of 2017 to the end of 2018, the students designed the mascot, the Look of the 2020 YOG and the pictograms. There’s also the cantonal art school, ECAL, which offers a highly regarded degree course. ECAL students designed the Olympic cauldron, the podiums and the medals plazas. The cauldron will be built by students at the Vaud School of Construction. These are just a few examples. We are relying on young people to carry out projects aimed at other young people.
Can the YOG help to promote sport in Switzerland?
During the Games, we will show the qualities of these young people, their self-sacrifice, their strength of will, sometimes their sadness and their successes, so that they make other young people want to do the same. What is exceptional about these Games is that, of the eight sites we shall be using, seven are winter sports centres, in two countries and three Swiss cantons, one of them German-speaking, with different cultures. We shall bring them all together and make them our own; we shall use their know-how and unite them. And the challenge we are taking on is that each will bring its own culture and celebrate for 20 days, even if the actual competitions in some of these places last only four or five days. For two weeks, there will be cultural and sports activities at each venue, activities to promote certain sports, initiations, etc. to get young Swiss people interested in playing sport.
What for you are the key success factors?
The public has to believe in it. We have to generate widespread enthusiasm. Everyone has to take part, whatever the event. We have to make it the public’s event! If we can manage to get everyone involved in these Games, that will be fantastic. In my presentations, I show an upward curve with the dates 2017, 2018, 2020, 2030 and 2040. It’s not a case of “Deliver the event and that’s it”. It’s nice to put on a good show, but anyone can do that. If we are lucky enough to have the Games, we need to take advantage of them and build for the future. A new cable car at Les Diablerets, the Vortex building for students, the high-level freestyle facilities in Leysin, the rebuilt ice arena in Lausanne, the involvement of the higher education institutes: everything is being done for the long term. The co-construction with the IOC is also a big aspect. We are testing solutions for the future! We are part of an overall development. For this to be of use afterwards, we are looking to achieve something new, so that we create a fantastic project for 2030 and 2040, and turn young people’s dreams into reality.