Synergy and legacy at the heart of Lausanne's 2020 vision

A Youth Olympic Games edition “for young people, by young people, with young people”: that is the concept at the heart of the Lausanne 2020 project, as Olivier Delapierre, the Local Organising Committee (LOC)’s Head of Public Relations and Engagement, explains.

Lausanne 2020 is about youth development, nurturing the talent of young people and getting them to own that process,” explains Delapierre. “That’s what we’re doing with the programmes we’re implementing for the event.

Lausanne is a breeding ground for talent and expertise. Its polytechnic school is world famous, and the city is home to an excellent health system that oversees a lot of academic research, and design schools that are known the world over, while the Lausanne Hotel School is recognised as a global leader in its field.

“We are trying to bring these people, schools and expertise together in support of robust projects, such as the athlete education programme and the development of the YOG look, podiums and medals, so that they can all start working together. They are working with us in the lead-up to the Games, but they’ve also been given ideas for working on and developing synergies on other projects that have nothing to do with the YOG. That’s very important.”

“There are more than 50 International Federations based in Lausanne. If the people who run these Federations need expertise, we have to show them that they have it right here in Lausanne and that they don’t need to go to London or Sydney.” 

Recipe for success

 The success of Lausanne 2020 also hinges on public transport being used as widely as possible. “The Olympic family (athletes, delegations, media and guests) will all travel this way,” he says. “We want to showcase Switzerland’s amazing public transport network. If you want to go and ski in the Vaud Alps, it’s much faster by train than by car.”

 The Lausanne 2020 YOG educational programme is also hugely important. “We have developed a programme that will form an integral part of [the athletes’] daily routines,” explains Delapierre. “What that means is that rather than set up a single educational centre where they have to go, we will go to where they are, at the various venues, to carry out specific activities that are relevant to their development as athletes.”

Decentralisation is, in fact, a recurring theme of the Lausanne 2020 vision: “We have a lot of expertise at the venue sites and so, instead of having a centralised organising committee, we are doing a huge amount of delegating to these sites. From the very start the venues have been stakeholders in the development of the project. We also need to remember that we are in Lausanne, the Olympic Capital, where the entire sporting world has a presence…There’s a strong symbolic element.”

Creating a strong legacy

Legacy is another objective at the heart of the LOC’s vision. “Engaging in a project of this scale for just two weeks in 2020 is not the only goal we’re hoping to achieve,” says Delapierre.

Facilities and venues are being created which will form part of a sustainable legacy for Lausanne 2020. “You can see that with the new ice rink in Malley, Lausanne, and the Olympic Village, a large circular building called the ‘Vortex’, whose primary function is to provide a facility for our city’s students, a function that we have promoted,” says Delapierre. “The athletes competing at the YOG will be the first to use it.”

“There are legacies in terms of youth, the development of expertise, and the creation of synergies between the various institutions… [as well as] strong sporting legacies in terms of skills and the renovation of infrastructure in the Vaud Alps and the French Jura.

“There’s a cross-border agreement between the French department of Jura and Switzerland’s Nordic teams, who for the next 20 years can use the refurbished facilities in Prémanon, including the Stade des Tuffes, a world-class ski jumping, cross-country skiing and biathlon venue.

“Lausanne’s revamped ice rink will be the home of the Lausanne Hockey Club, which plays in the Swiss top flight and will now have the opportunity to develop and progress. It will also host the 2020 World Championships. The YOG have helped bring the ice rink’s renovation along more quickly.”

There are many other examples of this drive for renewal, including Les Diablerets, where the Alpine skiing events will be held. “Thanks to the YOG, the refurbishment of the ski lifts has been speeded up and the mountain will be open all year round. An antiquated chairlift has been replaced by cabins, and the slalom, giant and super-G piste has been approved by the International Ski Federation (FIS) and can now host international competitions.”

Meanwhile, the ski and snowboard facilities in Leysin have also been upgraded, putting the Vaud Alps resort back on the world freestyle map, and the speed skating events will be held outdoors, on an oval situated on a frozen lake in St Moritz. “We’re going back to the roots of the sport, and that opens up opportunities.”