(ATR) Lausanne 2020 has exceeded expectations through the midway point of the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
IOC Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi also says the master plan and execution are being closely observed by Milan-Cortina 2026 organizers.
Dubi addressed media at a news conference alongside Lausanne 2020 president and three-time ski halfpipe world champion Virginie Faivre on Thursday in Lausanne.
"Lausanne 2020 is an open book into a vision that was expressed back in 2014," Dubi said, referring to the IOC’s Agenda 2020 reforms that were unveiled about six years ago.
Dubi said that Milan-Cortina 2026 officials are returning to Lausanne and the surrounding venues to further observe the YOG model and delivery.
"They love what is happening here and they are wondering how they can organize their own festival for the children for Milan and the host sites, not only in 2026, but starting earlier," Dubi said.
"They want to see the medal plaza as well, which is rocking every night.
"They want to see and look at the Vortex because it’s a building and if you ask 100 people they will say it is beautiful and it functions well," he said of the Olympic Village.
Around the Rings is told the new CEO of Milan-Cortina 2026, Vincenzo Novari, will lead a small delegation of technicians on a two-day visit beginning Monday.
There are similarities between the master plans of the two Games – despite the obvious contrasting size and scope of a YOG and an Olympic Games – most notably the decentralized model of venue clusters spread across lengthy distances.
Lausanne is nearly a six-hour train ride away from St. Moritz, where speed skating and sliding events are taking place. For the 2026 Olympics, spectators, officials, media and perhaps athletes will need to negotiate the more than 400 kilometers (249 miles) separating Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.
"It’s all in the framework that you establish in the beginning with the resorts and what latitude you give them, what you keep centrally versus what you give to them because they have the expertise.
"That’s what Milano-Cortina wants to look at because that’s exactly what they will be facing," Dubi said noting Italy’s distant venue clusters from Milan to Bormio to Val di Fiemme. "They know how to organize the competitions.
"What they will learn from here in Lausanne is how you decentralize what you take and control, things like images, broadcasting, safety and security, look of the Games, and what we leave to them." Dubi said. "A lot can be learned from Lausanne."
Lausanne Raises the Bar for YOG
The IOC official also talked about Switzerland’s existing venues, with a blend of history and innovation.
"It is a first to skate on natural ice in St. Moritz, it’s the right thing to do to use the beautiful ski jumps and biathlon venue in Les Tuffes (France) and here where we are in the canton of Vaud as well," Dubi said. "We are going everywhere where they have facilities to host in the best conditions."
Dubi also suggested that these Games in the Olympic capital have raised the bar for all YOG.
"We are no longer comparing these Winter Games Lausanne 2020 with previous editions, but with the previous Summer Games like Buenos Aires, which are on a much larger scale in a city," Dubi said.
"We are very close on the heels of Buenos Aires, which give us enormous pride because it proves that they are well done and the Youth Olympic Games are in full growth with the people of the city and region.
"These Games are a resounding success – let’s continue on this level, we are not changing anything," he said.
Dubi said that the nearly 1,800 athletes from 79 countries at the Lausanne YOG is just the "right size".
"You create all these infrastructures, so why not maximize them because for the athletes this is a formidable opportunity," Dubi said. "The more the merrier."
The second wave of athletes are en route to Switzerland – the strategy of two waves of athletes is designed to ease the burden on the local organizers and communities. Nearly 900 teen-aged athletes are arriving, while roughly an equal number depart.
"In the future, we want to give the organizers a little less burden," he said. "It’s a real logistics performance. Well done so far, but if we have to change anything it’s not the number of athletes, it’s the time of 24 hours to 48 hours and then it’s real cool."
Switzerland Rallies Behind YOG
According to Lausanne 2020 president Virginie Faivre, 170,000 spectators have attended events after six of 13 days of competition including 65,000 schoolchildren.
"Spectators have come to party in the city and there were lots and lots of spectators at the venues this past weekend," Faivre said.
The budget of the Lausanne 2020 YOG is $40 million. The canton of Vaud and the city of Lausanne each contributed $9 million with the Swiss federal government adding $8 million.The Swiss NOC contributed $1 million.
The remaining part of the budget was covered by a combination of the IOC, merchandising and licensing, and sponsorships.
The IOC tellsAround the Rings it hascontributed at least $29 million to the overall organization of the Games.
In addition, host sites are also benefiting from investments and financial support from the Canton of Vaud.
"These Games have been an accelerator of projects," Faivre said. "When we’re talking about Vaudoise Arena, it’s a project that has been going for a long time and now we pushed it to be ready for these Games and after the world championships of hockey.
In some instances, the YOG are directly enhancing the three Vaud Alps ski resorts used for competition in terms of infrastructure upgrades, including a new gondola at Les Diablerets.
"We want to push tourism for four seasons," Faivre said.
Lastly, Faivre pointed out that Les Tuffes, France – site of ski jumping, Nordic combined and biathlon – has undergone a renovation of its stadium thanks to the YOG, a project that will benefit Swiss and French athletes for the next 20 years.
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli in Lausanne
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