Meet the YOG Young Leaders

Lausanne 2020 takes a look at the IOC Young Leaders Programme and showcases the work that its beneficiaries are doing in the IOC Dome at the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lausanne 2020.

The ethos of the Winter YOG Lausanne 2020 is as much about the cultural and educational activities taking place across the city as it is about the sport itself, and proudly positioned in the Yodli Park in front of the Lausanne Vaudoise Arena is the IOC Dome: a space devised by 53 IOC Young Leaders during the IOC’s first ever “Createathon”, held in the city in September 2019.

The goal of the IOC Young Leaders Programme, which was launched in 2016, is to give young people the opportunity to create positive change in their communities through the power of sport. To date, the IOC has funded 116 projects worldwide – covering themes as diverse as health and well-being, peace and inclusion, the environment and education – and with the help of the tireless Young Leaders, more than 25,000 people have already benefited from the scheme.

Babacar Dieng from Senegal is one of 11 Young Leaders volunteering at the IOC Dome during the YOG. As he explains, its purpose is to educate visitors on the values of the Olympic Movement and showcase the benefits that come with playing sport in the Olympic spirit through the videos, activities and displays found in the space.

IOC

“The IOC Dome promotes the Olympic values and the Olympic Movement as a whole,” he says. “To people who don’t know exactly what the IOC does – especially children – it shows them the sort of values they should develop by practising sport. My job here is to get that message across to people and engage in team-building with them, showing them how to work in solidarity in order to achieve their aims.”

While Dieng is enjoying welcoming visitors to the IOC Dome in his first Winter YOG experience, he is already excited about the YOG 2022. Held in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, this will be the first-ever Olympic event on the African continent.

“I was part of the candidature team for Dakar 2022,” says Dieng, whose Young Leaders project involves giving children in foster care in his home country the chance to take part in regular sports activities. “People should get excited for the YOG because, for a lot of them, they will be able to discover Africa for the first time. It’s a beautiful place; we have great weather and a nice coast in Dakar, and the locals are very welcoming to visitors. The YOG are about culture and education as well as sport, so it’s a great opportunity for people to see how we educate our children and to discover our culture, which is one of the best in the world.”

IOC

Dieng has since launched a new project which focuses on helping people who suffer from diabetes. As for fellow Young Leader Sakina Valiyeva from Azerbaijan, her Baku-based project entitled “Sport at All Levels, for Everyone” organises athletics and table tennis outreach programmes in schools and orphanages, with a particular focus on young girls and disabled children. Like Dieng, Valiyeva is attending her first Winter YOG in Lausanne and has been heartened to see people get so engaged with the Dome while visiting during the Games.

“To see the children coming and asking questions, getting involved and above all enjoying it makes me even more eager to continue the good work of the Young Leaders Programme,” she says. “Working with the other Young Leaders is inspiring too – communicating with different people, getting new ideas and thinking about different perspectives is really valuable.”

Dieng, Valiyeva and all the other Young Leaders on the ground in Lausanne are also IOC commission members, and have been splitting their time between facilitating the Dome and attending IOC meetings to share their thoughts on the development of the Young Leaders Programme. For Valiyeva, the growth of the programme is key to ensuring the values of the Olympic Movement continue to be felt all over the world.

“The IOC Young Leaders Programme is important because it serves as a touchpoint in each country,” she concludes. “We as Young Leaders have a diverse range of volunteering experience, and we are aware of the problems faced by our own communities and how they can be solved. We’re proud to be creating great change thanks to the support of the IOC.”

For the fourth year running, the IOC is delighted to welcome the support of TOP Partner Panasonic, whose generosity has made it possible to expand the YCM+ programme.