There is now less than 700 days to go until the Winter YOG Lausanne 2020, so what is your message to those young athletes who are hoping to compete there in two years’ time?
“Train hard and then come and enjoy Switzerland! Come and enjoy the cheese; come and enjoy the chocolates; and come and enjoy our fantastic Alps. We have the best mountains in Europe, and so I'm sure they'll have a fantastic time. They should get ready to create some great memories and to feel this Olympic experience.”
And what would you say to young people in Switzerland about how they can also get involved with the YOG?
“There are many ways that they can participate, too, with programmes around the music, the mascots, the branding, and so on. There are lots of opportunities for them to be engaged, and also they have the chance to work with us in the Organising Committee. We are giving students some invaluable experience by participating in the organisation of the Games, and this is something that they can put on their CV forever. We hope that everybody, at the end of the day, will say, ‘Wow, this was really a good idea and a good investment for our future, for our youngsters.’”
More than 220 former YOG athletes competed at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. What do you think that says about the YOG?
“The YOG are a fantastic opportunity for young athletes and can be a springboard for them to enjoy really great careers, as we saw in PyeongChang. When you see these athletes winning gold medals, it demonstrates why the YOG are good for the sports movement, because more young people are interested, the audience is getting younger and the athletes are getting better. It’s not necessarily the primary purpose of the Youth Olympic Games, but it’s like the cherry on the cake.”
What are some of the innovations that fans and athletes can look forward to at Lausanne 2020?
“The athletes will be arriving in two waves, so that creates some opportunities for us to work differently with them. We have been working on a totally different Learn & Share programme, where we will be offering experiences on-site rather than at the Olympic Village. We’ll have additional sports, like ski mountaineering, and we will also have complete gender equality. We are also aiming to offer some new demonstration sports for fans in the city itself.”
How do you hope athletes and fans will look back on the Winter YOG Lausanne 2020?
“For those who come, we want to make it an excellent experience. They should go home from the Games and say, ‘Wow, that was something cool.’ We want them to speak about Lausanne 2020 for years afterwards, so they can say, ‘That was special; we made new friends and now we know Switzerland.’ We want to give them those feelings. If we can do that, and all our other innovations work well and we can add our own flavour to the Olympic Movement, then we can be very proud. We can say, ‘We played our role and we helped the Youth Olympic Games move to a new level.’”