International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has said the door is open for Switzerland to bid for a future edition of the Olympics following Lausanne’s successful staging of the winter Youth Olympic Games.
Today (Wednesday) is the last day of events at Lausanne 2020 and Bach has hailed the Games as a “huge success” as 1,872 athletes from 79 countries took part. More than 640,000 spectators attended events at venues across the cantons of Vaud, Valais and Grisons and in neighbouring France.
The success of the Games has led to questions over whether Switzerland may bid for the senior winter or summer Olympics in the coming years and Bach has welcomed the possibility, suggesting the feeling towards the Games has changed in the country.
He said: “You can not only feel it, but it has been addressed by many people I have been meeting, both in St Moritz, here in Lausanne and everywhere.
“I am, of course, happy to see this. If you are undertaking such a wide range of reforms as we have been, people, in particular in Europe, are very sceptical.
“They say maybe it is just another paper and let’s see what happens. Now, with Buenos Aires [host of the 2018 summer Youth Olympics], and with Lausanne, we have shown the reality of these reforms and how these reforms are affecting the format of the Games, how they are promoting sustainability, inclusivity and how they are reducing costs. People now look at it with different eyes.”
Switzerland has staged the winter Olympics twice before, with St. Moritz playing host in 1928 and 1948. Lausanne did form part of a joint proposal by the cantons of Vaud and Valais for the 2026 Games but the bid eventually fell through following a public referendum.
Bach added: “People are smiling throughout the city, this has been a big surprise throughout these Games. A bid is up to the Swiss to decide.
“Now we have a new system to decide, we are always willing to enter into a dialogue, even without an official bid being presented. Our door is open, the Swiss need to decide. They do not even need to knock, they can just walk through the door.”
The Lausanne 2020 games also marked the first edition of a Winter Youth Olympics that had an equal number of men and women competing. The event was also streamed worldwide via the IOC’s Olympic Channel platform, with a dedicated channel set up.