Competing is not enough at the Youth Olympic Games. Learning is crucial too.

By Justin Kor in Lausanne

Athletes from China using tablets to understand integrity awareness in the Athlete365 education centre at the Youth Olympic Village. Photo: OIS/Jed Leicester

As night falls in Lausanne, it becomes too chilly for any outdoor activities at the Youth Olympic Village. But athletes have plenty to do indoors at the village’s Athlete365 Awareness Zone.

This education hub is designed in the style of a cosy ski chalet, with a rustic wooden interior façade and comfortable beanbags laid out. The programmes here are a mix of fun and education. Athletes can play some air hockey and table tennis, while at the same time learn about sports subjects such as anti-doping from the brochures and education personnel stationed on site.

Competition aside, education has played an equally important role at the Youth Olympic Games since its inception, as the event looks to nurture young athletes with Olympism values. The Athlete365 Education Programme, formerly known as the Cultural and Education Programme, plays a key role in this aspect.

Stephanie Choi, Head of Mobile Marketing Team for Samsung, Dina Asher-Smith, GBR Sprinter, Janosch Nietlispach, Social Media Influencer and Zac Farrer, Social Media Expert Facebook are some of the guests at the Chat With Champions sessions at the YOG.  Photo: OIS/Chloe Knott.

“They (the athletes) are young, so we want to plant some seeds for their futures,” said International Olympic Committee (IOC) staff Nicolas Chamerois, who manages the programme. “This is an investment for the present, but also for the future in their careers.”

The IOC and the University of Lausanne have co-organised the educational line-up for Lausanne 2020. Subjects are catered for youth athletes aged 14 to 18. Here, they learn about career development, get advised on injury prevention, and receive tips how to manage their social media accounts.

“The programmes have been very good,” said Thai alpine skier Natthawut Hiranrat. “I’ve been watched the education videos on the televisions in the zone and answering questions regarding doping control. I’ve learnt a lot.”


Two-wave system

The Games village also housed a whole new batch of athletes as Lausanne 2020’s “two-wave” system was implemented. Athletes are split into two groups during the Games which allows for a shorter stay, yet ensure a full Olympic experience.

Among those in this second batch are the Singapore short track speed skating duo of Trevor Tan and Alyssa Pok who have already immersed themselves in the village. “The atmosphere is very lively and our rooms are very spacious and clean. It has been great so far,” remarked Pok.