The third edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games officially kicked off with the ceremony tonight at the Vaudoise Aréna.
The capital of the Olympic movement and home of the IOC will host, until 22nd January, the most important under-18 sporting event that will see around 1800 athletes from 79 countries throughout the world compete in 16 disciplines (the Italian athletes, however, will not compete in the skeleton).
Italy made its entrance in the athletes' parade, after Austria and ahead of Slovenia. More than half of the 67 Italian athletes were present on the ice (44 FISI members, 23 FISG members); 33 men and 34 women, who, in total (the rest of the group will arrive on 16th January), will take part in the Olympic event that starts tonight in Switzerland (crossing the French mountains of Les Tuffes). Then, at 8pm on the dot, the show kicked off with a moving display on ice and snow that combined Swiss tradition and innovation.
Present in the stands were the Olympic family and the heads of world sport, with the President of the IOC, Thomas Bach, sitting next to Simonetta Sommaruga, President of the Swiss Confederation who declared the Games open. With them were leaders of Italian sport, including the President of CONI and IOC member, Giovanni Malagò, and the Secretary General and Head of Olympic Preparation, Carlo Mornati, who witnessed the entrance of standard-bearer Alessia Tornaghi, the sixteen-year-old Milanese skater, twice senior Italian champion, who made her entrance at 8.09pm, together with Israel and Japan.
Lausanne is host to one of the two Olympic Villages (on the city's university campus) and three of the scheduled disciplines (Hockey, Figure Skating and Short Track Speed Skating). In the other village of St. Moritz, it was lugeist Alex Gufler who bore the flag at the other scheduled opening ceremony.
Tomorrow, on the snows of the Vaud Alps - in Les Diablerets and Villars - the first Olympic medals for the new entry Ski Mountaineering, which will make its debut in an Olympic event tomorrow with the men's and women's Individual Trial and Alpine Skiing, will already be awarded tomorrow with the men's and women's Super G.
The Lausanne 2020 Games are the first Winter Youth Olympic Games which guarantees an equal number of girls and boys competing for a medal (for the Summer Youth Games this had already happened in Buenos Aires 2018, while for the ‘big’ Games, this will happen for the first time in Tokyo 2020). For the first time, an edition of the Winter Games also includes mixed nationality 3×3 ice hockey, a women's doubles tobogganing competition, and the Nordic Women's Combined. These confirm the YOG as a true laboratory of ideas, driven by the energies of young people and at the service of sport.