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  • Lausanne 2020 Hits the Ground Running


    (ATR) The Olympic Capital wants to become known for hosting sports events and not just sports meetings.

    Lausanne, Switzerland (IOC)
    Lausanne 2020 has already begun preparations for the next Winter Youth Olympic Games with the tagline: “This is where it starts.”

    A team of 20 people were part of the joint IOC/Lillehammer 2016 Observer Program at the Lillehammer 2016 YOG.

    “The city of Lausanne and the whole region are very sports-passionate people,” Patrick Baumann, who led the bid and is now president of Lausanne 2020, told Around the Rings. “We have the mountains; it’s in our genes.”

    He said that while Lausanne celebrated its 100th anniversary as Olympic headquarters last year and also is the home of many international federations and the Olympic Museum, hosting the 2020 Youth Olympic Games marks a “translation into a real event. People can see the five rings and say, ‘Wow, the Olympic Games are in Beijing, in Sydney, in Athens -- and in Lausanne.’”

    Baumann, who is also Secretary General of FIBA, the international basketball federation, said the new CEO of the organizing committee, Ian Logan, will come on board in early March.

    FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann (ATR)
    Logan, a fighter pilot and colonel in the Swiss Air Force “is coming to us with a fresh vision on many things,” Baumann said.

    Lausanne was chosen over Brasov, Romania, last year, winning in overwhelming fashion 71-10. Promotional materials for Lausanne boast of Swiss precision and organization and promise that everything will run like clockwork. Lausanne 2020 will use existing, temporary and demountable venues in the region.

    “We have the ambition to show a face of Switzerland you do not know yet,” Logan said. “We want to show the world that Switzerland is also about innovation, about education, youth and sports and about passion.”

    Possible Olympic Bid

    Lausanne also has grander ambitions on an Olympic scale. In his remarks during a reception at the Brenneriet Restaurant in Lillehammer earlier this week, Baumann alluded to something “bigger” in the future.

    Proposed athlete village for Lausanne 2020 (Lausanne 2020)
    “There are discussions going on and I think there’s a lot of people that feel that the Olympics can bring something good,” he said of a potential 2026 campaign. “There is an ambition for Switzerland obviously to bid or to try. I’m not saying we will do it, because I don’t know.”

    Lausanne 2020 organizers began their reception in Lillehammer by giving guests aqua-colored knit hats to wear and aquavit to drink. They ended the night with a gift bag that included a Swiss army knife.

    Baumann acknowledged the presence of former IOC President Jacques Rogge, whose dream of starting a Youth Olympic Games came to fruition. Many current IOC members also attended the gathering. Freestyle skier Virginie Faivre, a reigning FIS world champion, and 2006 Olympic figure skating silver medalist Stephane Lambiel, a YOG athlete role model, also mingled with the crowd.

    Baumann said that now that the bid phase is finished, Lausanne 2020 may have to say “no” to some international sports federations who make requests.

    “Rest assured, dear colleagues and friends,” he said, “we will try our best to say a lot of yeses.”

    Program Changes?

    The IOC will review sports, disciplines and events after the 2016 YOG concludes. Eight new events were added in Lillehammer.

    Baumann compared the Olympic and YOG programs to “a soup my mother used to do, minestrone.”

    “You cannot take away the pieces,” he said, “but to add to it gives a new flavor. It’s an added value. So I think the IOC and all the federations, they have ideas. The trends change.

    “It’s appropriate to try to stay ahead of the trend, or take the trend, embrace it or find ways of integrating things that can become quite exciting for the youth and quite exciting for those that come. At the end of the day, people make new sports whichever way they like them.”

    Written by Karen Rosen in Lillehammer.

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