Historic innovations for Lausanne 2020

Lausanne, July 9th, 2017 – During its meeting in Lausanne this Sunday, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) endorsed a series of innovations in the conceptual development of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG). The Lausanne 2020 organising committee has taken an active role in these discussions with the IOC, the International Federations and the National Olympic Committees. Most of these changes will be inaugurated in and around Lausanne in January 2020.

Making the Olympic Capital a genuine laboratory of innovation for the continued development of the Youth Olympic Games was one of the key elements that motivated the city of Lausanne and the Canton of Vaud to get involved in the first place: with the decisions announced this Sunday, this has now become reality.

The approved innovations articulate around three axes: more athletes, more gender equality, and more innovative content in the sports programme.

Increased quality of competitions and total gender equality

The number of athletes present in 2020 will reach 1’880. This increase will have two consequences: an increase in the quality of competitions, and complete gender equality amongst the athletes. For the first time, there will be as many females as males in the Youth Olympic Games. Importantly, the total number of athletes participating in the event will not increase the pressure on the organisers. Here too, the IOC has chosen to innovate, introducing a new system that organises the athletes into two ‘waves’, with each ‘wave’ having a shorter stay on-site. Such a system allows the Youth Olympic Games to welcome significantly more athletes, for a duration prolonged by just three days. As a result, the Games will now take place from 10th to 22nd January 2020, offering more quality and diversity at the same cost.

A new sport in the Olympic program: Ski Mountaineering

It was also one of Lausanne 2020’s promises to offer innovative content inspired by Switzerland’s specific regional sports. In this sense, the addition of Ski Mountaineering in the Games’ programme was an obvious option. This sport, rooted in the tradition of Switzerland’s winter sports, will become the 8th sport in the Lausanne 2020’s programme, and will consist of individual, sprint and mixed relay events. In 2020, these events will be held in the ski resort of Villars, in the Canton of Vaud where ski cross and boardercross competitions will also take place.

In light of today’s IOC endorsement, Patrick Baumann, President of Lausanne 2020’s Organising Committee, said: “I would like to thank the Municipal and Cantonal authorities for allowing the Organising Committee to keep their promise of opening an innovative path for the Olympic Movement’s future. I am very happy about the outcome of our discussions: the Canton of Vaud and the City of Lausanne, the “Olympic Capital”, will fully play their role in facilitating the development of tomorrow’s sports.”

Ian Logan, Chief Executive Officer of Lausanne 2020’s Organising Committee, added: “It is a real privilege to be able to lead an event which ambition is to innovate by drawing from our region’s unique skills. Today’s announcement is the outcome of a long period of reflection, and the result motivates us more than ever to continue. We want to make the Games durable and intelligent, taking their place in today’s world while being an inspiration for the future. By achieving complete gender equality amongst participants, organising new events that make sense in our region, and working with education and culture on all levels, the beauty and relevance of our project in integrating the positive values of sport amongst our youth have never been so clear.”

Photo: Patrouille des Glaciers 2016, Copyright Keystone