Midway through the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lausanne 2020, the Games are breaking all records. The Olympic spirit is also burning brightly at the YOG, with the Olympic values at their heart.
The YOG are aimed at young competitors aged from 15 to 18, and nearly 2,000 athletes are taking part, 40 per cent more that the last edition. With 79 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) competing, that’s eight more than the last edition four years ago. And 12 NOCs are participating for the first time at the Winter YOG: Albania; Azerbaijan; Ecuador; Haiti; Hong Kong, China; Kosovo; Pakistan; Qatar; Singapore; Thailand; Turkmenistan; and Trinidad & Tobago.
So far, there have been more than 170,000 spectators at the Lausanne 2020 venues, and more than 100,000 people have taken part in the “Lausanne en Jeux” festival.
“This is an incredible figure for a youth sports event, when such events normally struggle to attract spectators. Here, the crowds are everywhere you look,” said Christophe Dubi, the Olympic Games Executive Director. “The city of Lausanne is in festival mode with people queuing to get a chance to see these amazing young athletes,” he added.
And with so many NOCs competing, the Olympic values have come to the fore. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach is on course to visit all the venues and experience all the sports, and has talked to hundreds of young athletes. At Les Diablarets on Wednesday for the Alpine skiing slalom, he spoke with young athletes from many countries – even having a moment with a group of athletes from Iran, Israel and the USA and posing for a joint photograph.
“This is a moment which is beyond politics,” said the IOC President. “It shows the true spirit of the Olympic Games to bring athletes together in peaceful competition, no matter where they come from or what they believe. This is the Olympic spirit.”