If you asked me a year ago about my views and plans to visit Switzerland, I would have simply answered saying “of course it’s on my list to visit for a vacation”. I probably would have never answered with “seeing Youth Winter Olympics in the Olympic capital itself”.
Bags packed, breakfast to go and my pick-up waiting downstairs - As I get ready to board my flight back from Geneva, I can’t help but look back at the past week as one of the most action-packed, thrilling and full of learning adventure.
I was in Lausanne, Switzerland to attend the 2020 Youth Winter Olympic Games as part of an official visit. And if visiting an exotic European location to witness future Olympic stars and starlets make their mark wasn’t enough, the sheer opportunity it bought for me as an experience and professional learning ensured my excitement levels were at an all-time high.
Situated on the shores of Lake Geneva, Lausanne is a focal point for international sport, hosting the International Olympic Committee, making it the perfect city to host the Youth Winter Olympic Games.
The talent at the Games was breath-taking to say the least as well.
From teenage sensations who graced the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games to those who’ve graduated, from being enthusiasts to now competitors, the Games had names touted to make it to the absolute pinnacle of sporting greatness in the near future.
I don’t think I could have chosen a better time to visit Switzerland, even if I never got in all the typical sightseeing. You hear a lot of people talk about ticking items on their bucket list, for me, one of my top items will always be watching ice hockey live at the Youth Winter Olympics.
This trip was planned in a short period of time and I could not attend neither the opening nor the closing ceremony or even any of the big matches.
But it didn’t matter at all. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t seeing any medals being handed out. It was enough for me to just be there; to witness it live and not on my TV screen.
Other than the sporting masterclass on display, what caught my attention most was the way the event was planned to make everyone in the city feel like they are a part of the action unfolding on the field.
With volunteers and branding displays across the city - local fan engagement avenues were an instant hit. So was the mini sporting arenas encouraging youngsters to step in and try their luck at ice hockey and skiing.
Also, the cultural shows in the evening keeping up the festive fervour, Lausanne, the city, came ‘alive’ in the truest sense of the term during the Games.
Encouraging responsible sports tourism was another highlight for me - Lausanne 2020 encouraged spectators to opt for public transport to access the various competition venues.
Special travel cards that enable spectators to travel free of cost around the Canton of Vaud were easily available on the official website.
Overall, I got to experience Lausanne in perhaps one of the best ways possible. Popularly perceived as a tourist haven, I happened to be in the sporting city when it was beaming with energy and high on adrenaline amidst an Olympic showcase.
As I head back home, it’s not one or two memories of sporting excellence that I’m taking with myself; it’s the entire experience of a city truly and firmly in the grip of an extreme sporting fever!
(The author is the Managing Director of Sports & Entertainment Practice at BCW, Asia Pacific and is also the Senior Vice President of Brands, Sports & Entertainment at Genesis BCW, India. An avid sportsperson, she also has more than 12 years of communications experience)
. Read more on Olympic Sports by The Quint.RSS & BJP’s Nehru-Netaji ‘Cosplay’: Irony Dies a Thousand DeathsBrexit Day: Businesses See Promising India-UK Ties Ahead . Read more on Olympic Sports by The Quint.