After launching the Olympic Winter Games in 1928 and hosting the “Games of Renewal” in 1948, St. Moritz is now preparing to host the Youth Olympic Games in 2020. What objectives is St. Moritz hoping to achieve by hosting the YOG 2020?
Martin Berthod (MB), Head of Lausanne 2020’s host site in St. Moritz : During the 1928 and 1948 Olympic Games, the disciplines of ice sports, bobsleigh and skeleton were already an important part of the program. The Olympia Bob-Run, the world’s last natural ice bobsleigh track, is the annual World Cup meeting point for the world’s best athletes in these attractive sports. With the Youth Olympic Games, St. Moritz can share this great history and tradition with the next generation of bobsleigh, skeleton and luge, and welcome them to these sports’ hometown. For the first time in the history of the Youth Olympic Games, the competitions will be held only on natural ice with bobsleigh, skeleton, and luge on the natural bobsleigh track in St. Moritz and speed skating on the frozen lake of St. Moritz. This culture and tradition will be experienced closely by the qualified teams and will remain as great memories.
More generally, in your opinion, how will the Youth Olympic Games contribute to the development of sport in Switzerland?
MB : The Youth Olympic Games will encourage young athletes to prepare in a targeted way. They will have a unique opportunity to compare themselves in high-level competitions to young people of the same age from all over the world in their sport. Although only a few athletes per country can qualify for each discipline, sports federations are challenged to present the “Olympic air” as well as attractive training offers in order to appeal to a wider audience for individual disciplines. They must also lay the foundations for future-oriented athlete training. In terms of promotion and development of Swiss winter sports associations, the Youth Olympic Games may also guarantee a top position in individual disciplines.
In terms of sports competitions, has the arrival of Lausanne 2020 been a trigger for the organisation of new events?
MB : Lausanne and all its integrated sports partner sites will benefit from the 2020 Youth Olympic Games effect. In addition to top-level sports, the culture and lifestyle of Switzerland and of the host sites are of great importance, creating together a holistic aura. The sporting events will also display new ideas and possibly encourage the development of these sports. From St. Moritz’s perspective in particular, speed skating on a frozen lake is a unique experience that, despite possible weather uncertainties, could turn into a new event and be offered in the programmes of the Youth Olympic Games and outdoor events.