IOC underlines continued financial backing as Lausanne YOG to net CHF400,000 surplus

(Photo by Sergei FadeichevTASS via Getty Images)

The Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games expect to record a surplus of CHF400,000 (€376,000/$423,200) after generating income of CHF37.7m in cash and CHF10.8m in value in kind.

Lausanne 2020 today (Wednesday) presented the figures, five months after the Games, which enjoyed a strong buy-in from the Swiss public, drew to a close and the day after the organising committee was dissolved.

Christophe Dubi, the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Games executive director, praised the success of the event. He also said that the IOC, which is in the process of working with organisers to cut costs associated with the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympics, will continue to cover certain costs for future Youth Olympic Games, including the host broadcast, even if hosting costs will be need to be ‘simplified’ in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Operational expenses for Lausanne 2020 totalled CHF48m, including the valuation of in-kind services for the same CHF10.8m amount.

Once the budget is closed at the end of this fiscal year, the CHF400,000 surplus is to be reinvested in a legacy foundation that will be created soon and will fund sports events, with a particular focus on youth competitions.

The Lausanne 2020 income of CHF48.4m included commitments of CHF9m each from the city of Lausanne and the Vaud canton, along with an CHF8m contribution from the Swiss government. Swiss Olympic, the national Olympic committee, provided CHF1.4m, while ticketing and merchandising brought in CHF2.2m and cash sponsorships generated CHF1.9m.

The IOC’s direct contribution to Lausanne 2020’s operating budget was CHF6.2m. However, additional investments by the IOC brought its total spend to CHF29m.

This includes travel and accommodation costs for countries’ delegations, NOC members and international federations, the cost of producing the host broadcast signal and a digital spend. Strong teams from the IOC’s Olympic Channel, which broadcast live coverage from Lausanne, and Olympic Broadcasting Services, the IOC’s host broadcast arm, were deployed at venues in Lausanne and across Switzerland.

Asked if the IOC could reduce these commitments at future iterations of the Youth Olympic Games during an era of streamlined costs caused by the coronavirus crisis, Dubi told SportBusiness: “This is not something that we contemplate. The engagements we have are up until Los Angeles 2028 and there is no reason for the IOC to go back on these host city contracts and the guarantees are going both ways.

“What we have to do collectively – and it’s something we’ve started with organising committees – is to look into the measures we envisage for Tokyo and to what extent they will apply to the next host but go further. To leave no stone unturned for Tokyo and even go further in the future. What can we simplify?

“All of us, international federations, broadcasters and partners need to provide this collective intelligence to come up with a simplified way to deliver the Games in the future.”

Dubi added: “You cannot compare Youth Olympic Games pre- and post-Covid. Our world has changed.

“In a post-Covid world it will be a different story because the social and economic conditions have evolved and will continue to evolve. We’re looking for ways to further simplify the delivery of the Games and that starts with Tokyo [2020].”

Spectator and digital buy-in

A total of 640,000 spectators attended Lausanne 2020 events, including 350,000 fans in attendance at the sports events. The ‘Lausanne en Jeux’ parallel festival of sports and culture was attended by 200,000 people, according to figures released by the organising committee.

Dubi noted Lausanne had been comparable to the 2018 Buenos Aires summer Youth Olympics “in terms of public engagement”, even if the latter naturally attracted larger crowds due to the increased number of events.

He said: “What was very interesting here in Lausanne and which you cannot produce in the context of the summer [YOG] is the medal plaza and festival created here. It was more in the parks in Buenos Aires with spectators participating in activities around the sports venues. Here in Lausanne we had a central location in downtown Lausanne (Le Flon) with concerts and children trying out the sports.

“You can do that in the context of winter as you can have a medal plaza and create plenty of activities around it and it worked superbly here.”

On the digital audience and broadcast footprint for Lausanne 2020, the organisers said: “Coverage of the event on Lausanne2020.sport and the Olympic platforms (Olympic Channel and olympic.org) attracted more than three million unique users during the 13 days of competition, a 200-per-cent increase over Lillehammer 2016.

“The content generated 66 million views on the Olympic platforms and social media, approximately 25 times more than the previous edition of the YOG. The various Olympic social media platforms generated more than 450,000 new followers thanks to Lausanne 2020.

“There was also a significant increase in TV broadcasting. After an absence of live coverage for the first winter YOG in Innsbruck 2012, the Lausanne 2020 edition was broadcast in 191 territories by 73 rights-holders who transmitted almost 2,700 hours of linear coverage.

“The YOG were watched by an estimated audience of more than 150 million people worldwide. In particular, the opening ceremony on 9 January was broadcast live on the three Swiss national channels. On [public-service broadcaster] RTS in French-speaking Switzerland, it achieved a market share of 25 per cent, a high score.”

Lausanne 2020 was also characterised by extensive use of public transport by athletes with this means of transport the only proposed by the organising committee in order to minimise the carbon footprint. Over 80 per cent of the teams exclusively used the public transport made available to them.

The YOG also drove forward local community projects, including Vortex, the Youth Olympic Village built for the Games but to be used as student accommodation after the event.

Ian Logan, Lausanne 2020 managing director, said: “The success of Lausanne 2020 is due first and foremost to a great, close-knit and motivated team, but also to the unwavering commitment of the host sites, volunteers and schools. Lausanne 2020 wanted to be an event for the new era, always in search of reasonable and sustainable solutions. I hope that we have shown a way forward for the future international sporting events.”

Dubi stated: “Lausanne 2020 has been a success in every respect for the IOC, which has learned many useful lessons for the future. These Games were the fabulous laboratory that the Youth Olympic Games were created to be. But beyond that, the greatest success of these Games was probably the level of commitment and the incredible enthusiasm of the people of the canton of Vaud.”

The Olympic Games executive director would not be drawn on a direct comparison with previous winter Youth Olympics, but remarked: “If you see this from a games organisation standpoint then we deliver only one event every two years but every time it’s a new mark in time for the Olympic Movement and a stepping stone to the next one. I wouldn’t compare [Lausanne 2020 to previous hosts] but it’s part of a collective intelligence that we continue to enrich.”