Games that can build our future

One legacy that is already associated with the organisation of the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games is the accelerated construction or renovation of various infrastructures in and around the Canton as well as in neighbouring France.

This being said, any infrastructure project in itself only holds value if it addresses a real issue for the local community. Because it is the community that will make use of this structure not only during but also well after the organisation of the Games.

Switzerland’s history is full of examples of sport or cultural events that have left a positive long-term legacy. The 1948 St. Moritz Olympic Winter Games, the 1964 National Exhibition or, closer to our region, the 1987 FIS World Ski Championships in Crans Montana – each of these events are often referred to as great examples due to their urban, social or sporting impacts.

It is in this same spirit that the 2020 Youth Olympic Games want to work: to find, at each stage of the organisation, the way in which the project can be developed with a long-term perspective, by accelerating or by creating projects that are useful for the community.

For example, we have already talked quite extensively about the Vortex, this revolutionary circular building for which construction has already begun at the North of the Dorigny university campus. This project aims at creating much needed student housing. Beyond the undeniable architectural value of this building, which will certainly become one of the symbols of the 2020 Games, the concrete legacy that will remain will have a positive long-term impact on the University and the EPFL and, more specifically, their students, professors and guests. When the students will be back to school in 2020, the building will offer 833 student rooms as well as 76 apartments or studios which will be at the disposal of academic hosts – an increase of 30% in student housing. It is all about increasing the quality of the services offered by professional schools and thus the university education in the region. This is an amazing case study which shows how a sport project can have a positive impact on its local population well-beyond its original purpose.

Another concrete example of this positive approach is the one of the collaboration with the neighbouring French region – the Commune of Prémanon. It is located just on the other side of the boarder of Cure, above Nyon. It is at here, a place located just a short hour away from the Youth Olympic Village where one can find the National French Training Centre for Nordic Skiing Medium Mountains (“CNSNMM”).

From the very beginning, this site had been identified as an option for the Ski Jump, Biathlon and Nordic Combine competitions for Lausanne 2020; especially as the French speaking part of Switzerland unfortunately does not have a training facility of this quality anymore. An arrangement was therefore made with the French authorities to allow young athletes from the region to train on this site for the next 20 years; this means that they won’t have to go to the other end of Switzerland to find a suitable training facility. This will create new sporting vocations and increase the level of our young athletes in a sport that is part of the Swiss DNA, but which athletes from the region had more difficulty accessing. This exchange of resources between our two countries also motivates other initiatives, such as a collaboration with the Diablerets ski station, who will send a delegation soon to Prémanon to meet with the local authorities in order to discuss more potential partnerships. This is a great example of sporting collaboration between two countries, to the benefit of their youth.

The last example on which we will focus on is the upgrade of the sport sectors in the Vaud Alps and in the Valley of Joux, which will ease the access to winter sports for all, especially for the youth of our region. Indeed, in both cases, Swiss Ski, the national ski federation, has already announced that they would be open to the idea of creating new certified training centres at the Diablerets and Valley of Joux venues for Alpine Skiing and Nordic Skiing. This is great news for the next generation of Swiss athletes and adds further value to the above-mentioned example in terms of collaboration between Switzerland and France. But beyond this purely competitive aspect, it is the practice of sport in important touristic regions of the Canton that will benefit from the organisation of the Games. For more information on this topic, we invite you to read our interview with Simone Righenzi, Head of Sport of the Lausanne 2020 Organising Committee, also featured in this newsletter.

The Olympic Games, as any other regional or national projects, have the capacity to unite partners, energies and ambitions that can constitute a solid basis for a long-term legacy.

Lausanne 2020 aims, and will continue, to create an event that will leave a mark on its generation, not only because it will celebrate the universal positive values of Olympism with the youth of the world, but also because it is being organised according to a long-term vision for the host country.

Photo: Olympic Day, June 23rd 2017 (Keystone/Flauraud)