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03 July 2020 | in Winter FISU World University Games

Winter Universiade 2021 organisers continue to share operations expertise with Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games hosts

lucerne2021 ceremony1The Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade making its grand unveiling to the student-athlete competitors during the closing ceremonies of the Krasnoyarsk 2019 Winter Universiade, the event edition's predecessor


What a time for major international multi-sports events in Switzerland. Since Villars held the Winter Universiade 1962 and St. Moritz hosted the 1928 and 1948 Olympic Winter Games, Switzerland in now in the midst of hosting frenzy with two top international multi-sports events in twelve months:  Lausanne put on the Winter Youth Olympic Games earlier this year and Lucerne is set to host the Winter Universiade in January 2021.


After six decades away from putting on events of this scale, the Lucerne 2021 organisers continue to benefit from the experience of working in concert with the Lausanne 2020 team.


Lausanne2020 torchThis theme of mutual cooperation continued this week as the Lausanne 2020 Organising Committee and its President, Virginie Faivre, informed the media about the successful outcome of the Youth Olympic Games in January 2020. This included reaching record audience numbers on-site, online and on television.   


Now, Switzerland’s next major multi-sport event in Switzerland will take place just over six month’s time with the Winter Universiade 2021 coming to Central Switzerland and Lenzerheide from 21 to 31 January 2021 with similar ambitions.


“The success of Lausanne 2020 gives us additional motivation for our work,” said Urs Hunkeler, Winter Universiade 2021 Managing Director. 


Hunkeler expressed gratitude to the Lausanne 2020 organisers for openly sharing their event hosting experiences. “We can benefit enormously from their experiences,” Hunkeler said.

lucerne2021 ceremonyLook for the Winter Universiade 2021 to play strongly on the traditions of its Central Switzerland roots and traditions


The Winter Universiade 2021 Managing Director went on to cite the large number of occasions when Lucerne 2021 managers were on-site in Lausanne during the Games and were able to look over their counterparts’ shoulders while they worked. After Games-time, the two organising committees held joint meetings to share experiences and encapsulate best practices and findings. 


A platform for top-class sport and studies 

Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games CEO, Ian Logan, is convinced that this sharing of experiences is essential, noting that “Switzerland needs visibility and big unifying events.” 


Added Faivre: “Lausanne 2020 showed the world an innovative Switzerland that invests in its youth. I hope that the Winter Universiade 2021 can reinforce this message. I also hope that our two events can demonstrate the challenges of combining top-class sport and study in Switzerland. This will enable us to improve the structures further so that our young sporting talents can develop in the best possible way, in terms of both sports and their studies.” 


All of the participants in the Universiade are university student-athletes, with the competitor registrants hailing from more than 50 nations and over 540 universities.


 Lausanne2020 snowboardThe athletes and competition formats of the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games helped the event attract new audiences to sport, as evidenced by record numbers of onsite fans, and digital and television viewers (OIS image)


Mobilising youth an essential factor for successful event hosting

According to Logan, a key element in the public success of Lausanne’s hosting of the Youth Olympic Games involved young people in the design process of this significant event. Incorporating the public was also a central element for the organisers of the Winter Universiade from the very outset, most visually with Swiss university students designing the event’s mascot and medals. 


“Being involved in an event like the Youth Olympic Games or the Winter Universiade is a unique opportunity. It is important to us that as many students as possible can benefit from this,” Hunkeler said. 


Lucerne 21 figureskatingThe President of Swiss Olympic, Jürg Stahl emphasised how hosting both of these two events provided not only a unique opportunity for the students but also Swiss sport as a whole.



“The Youth Olympic Games 2020 in Lausanne were the last major international multi-sport event before the coronavirus crisis,” Stahl said. “We expect that the Winter Universiade will be the first major international multi-sport event after the crisis. I am very confident that the Universiade will be equally as successful as the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games and that it will have the same positive impact on sport and the perception of major sporting events in Switzerland.” 


The Swiss Olympic President noted that against the backdrop of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Winter Universiade 2021 will play a unique societal role that goes beyond the field of play. “With such events, we are helping to ensure that we are all come out of the crisis together and create new opportunities for subject matter experts, the economy, tourism and society,” Stahl said. 


Strong registration number despite the pandemic 

The Winter Universiade 2021 Organising Committee is monitoring the development of the pandemic in close cooperation with the authorities, and the national university sports federation (Swiss University Sports) and the International University Sports Federation (FISU).


 “We were relieved to hear that the Swiss Federal Council has announced that larger events can be held again from September 2020 onwards, if the situation permits,” Hunkeler said. “This is a positive signal for organising the Winter Universiade in January 2021.” 


lucerne2021 icehockeyWith Switzerland's historic interest in the sport, look for ice hockey to be among the main attractions during the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade -- just as it was during the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games


The Winter Universiade 2021 Security Manager, Beat Hensler, is continuously analysing the rules of the event, and, where necessary, adjusting the plan to ensure maintaining participant health is always paramount. 


Another encouraging sign is the number of registrations, with over 50 nations having registered by mid-June 2020. Hunkeler expressed his pleasure with the number of registered participants, saying, “We’re expecting some 2,500 athletes and officials. We are particularly pleased that, in all probability, we will be able to conduct the ice hockey tournament with twelve men’s and eight women’s teams. That’s great news for all ice hockey fans!”