Lausanne Olympic Week

Lausanne Olympic Week©2017 Comité International Olympique (CIO) / MORATAL, Christophe
  • Olympic City: Lausanne
  • Country: Switzerland
  • Edition of the Games: Olympic Capital since 1994, Youth Olympic Winter Games 2020
Annual since 1981
Youth: 8 to 15 years old

Description of the Project

Olympic Week is an annual event in which a diverse range of sporting and cultural activities are offered to the youth of Lausanne during six days of their October school holidays. All activities are completely free of charge and open to all participants.

The event combines sport, culture and education under the Olympic banner in an effort to encourage young people to get active, learn and engage with one another. Over the course of the week, over 5,000 youngsters try out new and fun sports while immersing themselves in the values of Olympism.

The event targets local children aged between 8 and 15 and offers introductions to over 30 different sports. A huge number of stakeholders are involved in the design and delivery of the event from start to finish. Among these are 150 team leaders, each of whom is ideally suited to introduce their relevant sport to the youngsters. These experts are supported by 120 volunteers drawn from the local population.

All activities are centrally located on the grounds of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. Sporting activities take place in the Museum gardens, which are fully equipped with all the necessary installations and equipment needed for the various sports on offer. The cultural and educational activities are split amongst the gardens and inside the Museum buildings themselves. The Museum houses a significant collections of artistic, scholastic and anthropological works all of which are integrated into the programme.

The 5-day event was first introduced in 1981 by then-President of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch. Lausanne has always had a strong Olympic heritage with the IOC being based in the City since 1915. The City is also home to a number of other important international sporting organisations, including the Olympic Museum.


Promote a healthy and active lifestyle

Olympic Week offers children the opportunity to sample sports that they otherwise would not have had. This is always under the guidance of fully trained, expert instructors. It also promotes contact with local sports clubs for many of the different sports on offer. This facilitates a natural progression for participants in sports that they have enjoyed during Olympic Week long after the event has finished. Olympic Week also promotes a healthier lifestyle through the delivery of numerous social and educational programmes around the event. This covers aspects raging from nutrition and well-being through to the benefits associated with potential career paths within the sporting industry.

Promote the city by leveraging its affiliation with the Olympic Movement

In 1994, the IOC officially agreed to bestow upon Lausanne the title of the Olympic Capital. This has seen the City brand a host of activities under the umbrella of the Olympic Capital and Olympic Week is a prominent example of this. The Olympic connection is applied to the event more than simply in name. The event takes place at the Olympic Museum and the surrounding Olympic Park, which contains numerous sporting installations that host the sporting trials over the five days. Each of these are measured to Olympic standard and have been marked to show the current Olympic and World records. This is a huge source of excitement for the participants, who revel in this connection between them and their Olympic heroes



Evaluation takes place on a biannual basis and is focused specifically on the children taking part. Interviews are used to capture how children have interacted with the event, what they liked and what improvements could be made for the following year.


Key Challenges

Working with numerous stakeholders

Olympic Week is possible thanks to the cooperation of about 70 different stakeholders throughout the delivery of event. This includes 10 different city administration units, representation from 30 local sports clubs, a range of local cultural and educational groups, a selection of local athletes and various IOC departments. While the input of all these parties is what makes Olympic Week such a success, dealing with such a large body of different groups also represents a challenge.

In order to successfully manage this, a precise roadmap with clear milestones is developed and respected at all times. There is regularly scheduled communications with stakeholders running alongside this road map for the duration of the project.  This ensures that there is a continual personal contact with everyone involved in Olympic Week, resulting in a strong team spirit and communal work ethic.


Attracting public interest

Citizens of Lausanne are fortunate in that there is a large amount of various activities and pastimes to cater for all tastes. This is particularly the case around the time of the October school holidays. This positive aspect of Lausanne life, creates a difficulty for the organisers of Olympic Week, however. Raising awareness within the population about Olympic Week and attracting attendees can be difficult when competing against a host of other activities on offer.

To combat this, the organisers operate an extensive communications campaign, making use of numerous communications channels, including printed leaflets, radio and social media campaigns. Messages are tailored to each channel and their respective audiences to ensure maximum reach and impact.


Key Learnings & Recommendations


Introduce athletes as role models

Olympic Week has developed activities which welcome established athletes to become involved in the sporting demonstrations taking place. This provides the children with the opportunity to meet these athletes and share their experiences and secrets of success.  As these athletes are very often role models for the children, these interactions have a huge impact on the children. Very often it is the highlight of their day and it helps to really drive home many of the value-based lessons aimed at participants.

Define a critical size and capacity

Olympic Week has continually grown into one of the most well attended events in the City. Over 5,000 children are welcomed to the Olympic Museum over the course of the five days. To guarantee maximum safety and enjoyment, organisers have had to clearly define what the absorption capacity of the event is. Long queues engender frustration and nervousness, both on the side of participants and volunteers. As a result, each year the organisers revisit the capacity allowance for the upcoming event and they plan the accreditation process accordingly.

Maximise security

As the event is aimed at children, ensuring the highest standards of security is absolutely paramount. It is also vital to gain the confidence of the parents and guardians. To ensure that the security of the event is of the highest quality, Olympic Week applies the security measures operated by the Physical Education and Sports Department of the Canton of Vaud (SEPS). These measures have been proven in practice and are implemented on a daily basis with children in schools across the City and the surrounding areas.


More information

The full case is available in printable version on the members’ portal

In addition to the above description, the PDF version also gathers practical information including internal and external partners involved; finance and cost; use of the olympic brand; human resources and time; and contact details. 

The World Union of Olympic Cities’ team remains at your disposal for any further information and contact’s facilitation at 

Additional resources can be found through the following links: