"These games have a key role to play in promoting sport"

During the Youth Olympic Games in January 2020, Villars will be hosting several events. Sergei Aschwanden, Olympic medallist in Judo and Director of the touristic association “Door to the Alps”, answers our questions.

What are the objectives that Villars expects to achieve by hosting the Youth Olympic Games in January 2020?

With Lausanne 2020, we hope to enhance Villars' position as a high-potential sporting and tourist destination, specifically for a young audience. Then, in collaboration with our neighbours in Leysin, Les Diablerets and Pays d'en Haut, we want to highlight the strong assets of the Vaud Alps and make it a more recognised destination first in Romandie and then throughout Switzerland. In this respect, the Youth Olympic Games are perfectly in line with the logic that is bringing the Vaud Alps together, in order to promote themselves better.

During the Games, Ski Mountaineering will be organised in Villars for the first time in the Olympic history. Why is Villars interested in promoting this new discipline?

Ski Mountaineering is a discipline that we are familiar with  in Switzerland, especially through the “Patrouille des Glaciers” or the “Trophée des Bouquetins” in Villars. In competition, this discipline takes a more compact form and allows the public to closely follow the athletes’ spectacular performance. With Ski Cross and Boarder Cross also taking place in Villars, we want to highlight our strong expertise to international federations in order to be more attractive to the sports world. Villars' positioning as a sports destination for all is at the core of our strategy and the Youth Olympic Games are undoubtedly a great opportunity to demonstrate this.

In general, how do you think the Youth Olympic Games should contribute to the development of sport in Switzerland?

These Games have a key role to play in promoting sport, primarily among young people in Vaud and the Romandie. Our canton and our country are still far behind our European neighbours in terms of elite sports development. Lausanne 2020, and also the Winter Universiade in Lucerne in 2021, should raise the political awareness needed to facilitate access to sports for young people in our country, mainly by making it easier for them to combine sports and studies. I hope that these two important events can bring this topic back to the centre of debate.

Picture: ©Laurent Gillieron/Keystone