Athletes making their way to the opening ceremony of Lausanne 2020. (GP)
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LAUSANNE – The wait is finally over for 1 880 young athletes.
The first of two Olympic sporting events of the year, Lausanne 2020, the 3rd edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games got underway last night in Switzerland.
Slightly marred by a serious accident involving a Russian skater who fell five metres from a ring system on Monday and had to be airlifted to a hospital, it had all the components to complement the capital of international sports.
The history of Switzerland being the home of the Olympic Games was portrayed at the sold out Vaudoise Arena where an estimated 95 000 fans were thrilled. Under the theme Home, it was based around seven elements of the Olympic Movement and produced in line with Lausanne 2020´s innovative vision and its aim to showcase the youth.
The opening ceremony was broadcasted live and the athletes who will compete in speed skating, bobsleigh, luge and skeleton in St Moritz and Les Diablerets, France, were also given the opportunity to be involved.
As tradition, Greece led the way, but it was a special occasion for CARICOM when Trinidad and Tobago Alpine skier Abigail Vieria and Haitian Mackenson Florindo entered the arena flying the two Caribbean flags high.
The Olympic Flame completed the last stage of a four-month journey throughout Switzerland’s 26 cantons with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron, and president of the Swiss Federation, Simonetta Sommaruga, declaring the first gender-equal games officially open.
In a very brief address, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach welcomed the athletes to the historic sporting city.
“For more than 100 years, Lausanne has been home to the Olympic Games. Here you are at the heart of the Olympic movement. It will be a special one,” he said.
The IOC head told the audience, the games is a representation of how much the committee is celebrating the athletes between the ages of 15 and 18.
“This is your time, your moment, so enjoy it. All of us are here to celebrate you the athletes, you are centre stage,” Bach stated.
The games will consist of eight sports, 16 disciplines and 81 events. Seventy-nine nations are taking part.
The Summer Olympic Games will be held later this year in Tokyo, Japan. (AGB)