Lausanne picks and chooses as events clam­our to be held in the ‘Olympic Cap­i­tal’

Sportcal - - SPORTS CITIES - By Cal­lum Mur­ray

Lausanne’s de­ci­sion to bid to stage the win­ter Youth Olympic Games was a rel­a­tively un­usual one, in that the city does not al­ways have to seek out events. More usu­ally, events or­gan­is­ers seek out the city be­cause of its sta­tus as the ‘Olympic Cap­i­tal,’ among other rea­sons, ac­cord­ing to Marc Vuilleu­mier, Lausanne’s di­rec­tor of sports and one of seven elected city coun­cilors.

The Youth Olympic bid faced a vote on Septem­ber 19 by the so-called ‘par­lia­ment of sport,’ the 80 na­tional sports fed­er­a­tion mem­bers of Swiss Olympic to deter­mine whether the na­tional Olympic com­mit­tee would pro­ceed with the bid. The bid re­ceived unan­i­mous ap­proval to go for­ward and be pre­sented to the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee by the dead­line of Novem­ber 28, hav­ing al­ready been rec­om­mended by Swiss Olympic’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

Asked why IOC mem­bers should vote for the win­ter Youth Olympics to held in Lausanne, Vuilleu­mier said: “The IOC should vote for Lausanne be­cause the core of the Youth Olympic Games is shar­ing Olympic val­ues with the sports youth of the world. There is nowhere bet­ter to do that than in the place that be­came the cra­dle of the Olympic Games 100 years ago [the IOC will select the host city in May 2015, ex­actly a cen­tury af­ter Lausanne was se­lected by Pierre de Cou­bertin to be­come the IOC’s head­quar­ters].

“The Youth Olympic Games are en­grained in what Lausanne wants to do with sports, their so­cial and cul­tural im­pact, and pro­mot­ing the pos­i­tive val­ues of Olymp­ism. That’s what sports events should bring to Lausanne.”

For this rea­son, and be­cause Lausanne is a rel­a­tively small city of only about 130,000 in­hab­i­tants (310,000 in the greater Lausanne re­gion), it has mainly sought to at­tract and stage mass par­tic­i­pa­tion events such as 2011’s World Gym­naestrada and the an­nual 20km of Lausanne (run­ning event), the Lausanne Triathlon and the Lausanne Marathon.

The city also boasts elite events such as the an­nual Ath­letis­sima, the top-tier IAAF Diamond League ath­let­ics event, but such events are more usu­ally staged on an ad hoc ba­sis in re­sponse to ap­proaches from com­mer­cial pro­mot­ers or, more rarely, in­ter­na­tional fed­er­a­tions.

One such event was a stage of basket­ball’s new FIBA 3x3 World Tour, held in late Au­gust and at­tracted to Lausanne by the op­por­tu­nity to im­press the IOC with the dis­ci­pline’s cre­den­tials for in­clu­sion in a fu­ture Olympic Games.

Vuilleu­mier also cited eques­tri­an­ism’s Longines Global Cham­pi­ons Tour this year and next year’s Archery World Cup Fi­nal as ex­am­ples of ma­jor events be­ing hosted by the city, but ad­mit­ted: “We’re in a phase where we’re more or­gan­is­ing than bid­ding, turn­ing down rather than invit­ing, events. If you look at the cal­en­dar, we have the 3x3 basket­ball. We’re flat­tered [other cities host­ing events on the tour in­clude Is­tan­bul, Tokyo, Prague and Rio de Janeiro] but we know they come here to be seen by the IOC.

“We have a base of an­nual events, plus ev­ery year one or two com­pletely new events that come only once. Peo­ple come to us to or­gan­ise events. We some­times have to say no. We have to have a bal­ance as a small city be­ing asked to host events, be­cause we have to take into con­sid­er­a­tion the im­pact of clos­ing roads, for ex­am­ple.”

The city twice staged the Red Bull Crashed Ice event, a down­hill ur­ban skat­ing event us­ing an ar­ti­fi­cial piste that takes ad­van­tage of the city’s lo­ca­tion on the side of a steep hill over­look­ing Lake Geneva. The event at­tracted 50,000 spec­ta­tors, and, said Vuilleu­mier, “They would love to come ev­ery year or ev­ery other year, but we have to con­sider the im­pact.”

The ben­e­fits of host­ing sports events in­clude a SFr200-mil­lion ($216-mil­lion) eco­nomic im­pact in the canton of Vaud, of which Lausanne is the cap­i­tal. Lausanne is seek­ing to in­crease these ben­e­fits by cre­at­ing a so-called ‘Clus­ter,’ based at the city’s EPFL univer­sity, which would merge in­ter­na­tional sports re­search work with eco­nomic pro­mo­tion, putting pri­vate com­pa­nies in touch with sport, “cre­at­ing syn­er­gies in a place where stake­hold­ers can ben­e­fit from their pres­ence in the same re­gion.”

Switzer­land’s fed­eral sys­tem of 26 can­tons, and the fact that most sports fa­cil­i­ties are owned by in­di­vid­ual cities, has meant that a com­plex ar­range­ment has had to be thrashed out for fi­nanc­ing the win­ter Youth Olympic Games, if the bid is suc­cess­ful. The city has pro­posed a games bud­get of SFr38 mil­lion, of which 85 to 90 per cent will come from pub­lic sources, de­rived from the city of Lausanne, the canton of Vaud and the Swiss con­fed­er­a­tion.

Lausanne 2020, which has been ad­vised by TSE Con­sult­ing, the Lausanne-based sports man­age­ment con­sul­tancy, pro­posed to Swiss Olympic a ‘three-clus­ter con­cept’, with Alpine ski­ing dis­ci­plines in the Alps and Nordic ski­ing in the nearby Jura re­gion, all tak­ing place within the bound­aries of the canton of Vaud. The city it­self would be the lo­ca­tion for all ice sports, plus the Olympic Vil­lage and the cul­tural and ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme.

The in­au­gu­ral edi­tion of the win­ter Youth Olympic Games was held in Inns­bruck, Austria last year and the sec­ond event will be hosted by Lille­ham­mer in Nor­way in 2016.

Switzer­land re­cently aban­doned a pro­posed bid to host the 2022 win­ter Olympic Games in St Moritz and Davos, af­ter the elec­torate in the canton of Grisons (Graubün­den in Ger­man-speaking parts of the coun­try) voted against the pro­ject in a ref­er­en­dum.

Switzer­land has not hosted the win­ter Olympics since 1948 and sub­se­quent bids, all cen­tred on the canton of Valais (which bor­ders Vaud), to host the games in 1976, 2002 and 2006 were un­suc­cess­ful. How­ever, talks are once again be­ing held in Valais, whose re­sorts in­clude Ver­bier, Zer­matt and Crans Mon­tana, about host­ing a fu­ture win­ter Olympic Games there, Vuilleu­mier said.

Asked whether a win­ter Youth Olympic Games could be a pre­cur­sor to a bid by Lausanne and Vaud to host the win­ter Olympics, Vuilleu­mier said: “I don’t think so, for fi­nan­cial and in­fra­struc­ture rea­sons. Af­ter the Grisons vote, I think the only place that could do it is Valais. But if a bid from Lausanne for the youth games can help Valais to bid for the win­ter Olympics, we would be very happy.”

Lausanne Triathlon

Red Bull Crashed Ice

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