"A 5-star YOG"
Steve, you were the Swiss "Young Change Maker" at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. What is this role and what were your main activities at the Games?
Steve Dreyfus (SD) : I had the chance to be appointed by Swiss Olympic to take on this role for the Swiss delegation there. There were a total of 79 Young Change Makers, one from each country. The principle of this programme, organised by the IOC, is to support young athletes so that they can gain as many positive experiences as possible from their time at the Youth Olympic Games. We follow their daily lives very closely. We also have an overview of the organisation of the YOG, including an understanding of the importance of the different actors on the ground and a behind-the-scenes visit. As a Young Change Maker in a delegation, we need to make athletes understand that the YOG goes beyond the simple concept of performance. That this experience, perhaps unique in a lifetime, allows them to forge strong links between elite athletes, share emotions and immerse themselves together in the culture of a country. We are close to them and build strong relationships. We organize activities, we support them and are there for anything they need!
How do you feel about the young athletes you met in Buenos Aires? What are their aspirations and how, in your opinion, can this participation in the YOG help them to develop?
SD : What impressed me the most about them was their relaxed and calm approach. Some people only get into their ‘bubbles’ very late and see these Games as...simply a game. The competitive charge then comes in only when they approach the beginning of their events. I think that in a certain sense, this kind of calmness preserves them and allows them not to feel the stress induced by the presence of hundreds of thousands of spectators and television cameras. This gives them the opportunity to deliver a good performance. For me, at this stage, few are solely performance-oriented, which would involve a specific diet, a top-level sports mind or an extremely strict discipline. Sporting-wise, the YOG shows them the way to reach this level in a heathy manner. The educational aspect is particularly useful for this purpose: the IOC's interactive activities cover topics such as doping, sexual harassment in sport, the manipulation of competitions, but also performance improvement and career management, which are treated in a playful way.
One of the ambitions of the YOG is to continue to spread the positive values of sport through the athletes after they return home to their communities. How does this work?
SD : In this context, social networks should not be underestimated. A very important theme for an athlete today is the management of their image. Young people spend a lot of time on social networks and communicate a lot about their daily lives at the Games, even after their return. Having been selected for Buenos Aires, they are regularly cited as examples in their respective fields. Many have already conducted interviews, for example. I am firmly convinced that the experience in Youth Olympic Games can transform a young person between the ages of 15 and 18. An accreditation with Olympic rings, security checks before entering the village, police escorts to the competition venues, living in an Olympic village, and of course the opening ceremony are all exceptional and striking elements. It is natural that young people will want to talk about it when they return, and that is where this global spread of Olympic values comes into play.
What impact do you think the Swiss DNA of the YOG in 2020 will have on athletes and young spectators?
SD : The YOG can mobilise people. There were more than a million spectators in Buenos Aires. In 2020, I will be so happy to see them "at home". I will be responsible for organising the ice hockey competition. I have always loved Lausanne and sport. A symbol of Switzerland is the watch. And in a watch every part is essential. The external aspect is essential, but the inside, the heart of the watch, is even more important. The infrastructure here is great, the people are very professional, involved and serious. Swiss punctuality, attention to detail and Swiss rigour will make it possible to deliver, I am sure, a 5-star YOG. We have everything we need to do well.