60 per cent of sponsorship target met as Lausanne 2020 celebrates year to go
By Callum Murray in Lausanne
Organisers of next year’s winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne have raised about 60 per cent of their target of SFr6 million ($6.1 million) in local sponsorship revenues, with exactly a year to go until the opening ceremony, and are confident of reaching their target, according to Ian Logan, chief executive of the Lausanne 2020 organising committee.
The games operational budget remains unchanged at $40 million since Lausanne won the race to host the games, with the International Olympic Committee also contributing SFr6 million, and the remainder coming from city, cantonal and federal governments.
Lausanne 2020 last night unveiled the mascot for the games, Yodli, a composite creature made up of elements of a cow, a St Bernard dog and a goat, animals “engrained in Swiss culture.”
The mascot, designed by students of the local arts and communications school, made its first appearance at an ice hockey match of the local Lausanne club. The unveiling formed part of two days of celebrations of the ‘year to go’ landmark, culminating this evening with music and other events at the city centre venue that will serve as the medals plaza during the games.
Logan’s boast that preparations are both on budget and on time represents an important claim at a time when the IOC is attempting to develop a new model for bidding for and hosting its events, in the face of cities taking fright over what has often seemed the inevitability of games going over budget.
Logan told Sportcal: “All the venues are ready and we’re talking to the international federations. All are ready except for ice hockey, which is a new venue, and all are hosting pre-YOG [test] events.
Preparations were not interrupted, Logan said, by the shock death of Patrick Baumann, the erstwhile president of the organising committee of the games, while he was attending the Buenos Aires Youth Olympics in October.
The death of the Swiss official, Logan said, represented a “great loss. He was an amazing leader, a visionary and facilitator. He could see the way forward. It’s thanks to Patrick that the project was going very well, that all major hurdles are behind us and that we’re on budget and on time. It’s thanks to his leadership that we resolved the major problems.
“When Patrick left, the work kept on going on a good track. But it was a dramatic shock, personally and emotionally. It was not an easy time.”
Lausanne 2020 announced last week that Baumann has been succeeded by Switzerland’s Virginie Faivre, the multiple freestyle skiing world champion. The appointment of the “young and charismatic” Faivre represents a “great legacy from Patrick, who could find the right people,” according to Logan, who added: “His legacy was to trust young people. We keep on putting youth and sport at the centre [of the preparations].”
Born in Lausanne, Faivre was three times FIS world champion in half-pipe (2009, 2013 and 2015) and three times crystal globe winner in the discipline (2008, 2009, 2013), and brings her experience of major international winter sports competitions to the preparations to host the games.
Two major construction projects remain to be completed ahead of the games: ‘Vortex’, a new student housing project at the University of Lausanne, which will serve as the main athletes’ village during the games; and the Vaudoise Arena (artist's impression pictured), a multi-purpose sports complex, including a 10,000-seat ice rink which will host ice hockey and the newly-introduced 3x3 ice hockey competitions during the games, and will then become the new home of the Lausanne ice hockey club (which presently plays matches in a neighbouring temporary facility).
Funding for the two projects is not included in the operational budget. Vortex, which is budgeted at SFr156 million is being privately funded, while Logan said that the games had created the impetus for the construction of the SFr227-million Vaudoise Arena, which is being funded by a consortium of Lausanne and surrounding communities.
He said: “It was desired for a long time for the local [ice hockey] club. It was an area looking for a new centre for a long time, and the games helped accelerate this. It’s becoming a sport centre with a new ice rink and indoor 50-metre swimming pool, which did not exist in Lausanne. The project was ongoing for 10 years, but never got going.”
Entry to events at the games will be free, albeit the restrictions caused by holding events at ski resorts, some of which are only accessible by cable car and chairlift, mean that Lausanne 2020 will not be able to replicate Buenos Aires 2018’s successful initiative of offering all-access wristbands ahead of and throughout the games.
Logan said of the Buenos Aires games: “What was amazing was the enthusiasm of the people. For us, one of the big learnings was to engage. We’re doing the same kind of things: all venues will be free. In Buenos Aires they had parks, we are physically geographically limited.
"We will do an access concept. People will get free tickets but they will have to sign in to guarantee to get to the resorts. In Buenos Aires they distributed 600,000 bracelets. They were overwhelmed by their success. We’re finalising the details now, but we want to be sure that if you say you are going to the games, and you sign for access, we can manage the capacity flow.”
By Logan’s own admission, the Youth Olympics remains a relatively unknown concept around the world, while some critics are still sceptical over its purpose, despite the perceived success (in Olympic circles) of Buenos Aires 2018. Asked what, for him, would constitute a successful games next year, Logan said: “Thanks to youth, we have a great opportunity to do things differently. For me, success will be if we have a games in the Olympic capital [which encourages] people to go to do winter sports.
"Already, we had 20 per cent more skiers at Christmas this year. If, thanks to the games, we trust young people, and people know we have great facilities, and our sports region can develop, that is a success.”
The organising committee presently comprises fewer than 30 people on its full-time payroll. But to this total Logan said must be added about 400 people working at the local level at the venues, all of which have their own organising committees, plus 3,000 volunteers.
Speaking at a press conference today, Christophe Dubi, the International Olympic Committee’s executive director of the Olympic Games, said that some of the initiatives that Lausanne is introducing are already being adopted for future games, while cities from five countries, including Bulgaria, Romania, Spain and Russia, have already expressed interest in bidding to host the next edition of the winter Youth Olympics in 2024.
In all, Dubi said that the IOC is in talks with 30 cities over the possibility of bidding to host Olympic and Youth Olympics, summer and winter, up to the summer games of 2032.
The Lausanne 2020 winter Youth Olympics will take place from 9 to 22 January 2020 and involving 1,880 athletes aged 15 to 18 years old from more than 80 countries. The competitions will take place in the cantons of Vaud (Lausanne, Leysin, Les Diablerets, Villars), Valais (Champéry), Grisons (St-Moritz) and neighbouring France (Prémanon-Les Tuffes).