The University of Lausanne, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and the Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland (HES-SO) have been commissioned by the International Olympic Committee to send a 33-person delegation to the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, which will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 2-16 October 2018.
The delegation is being sent as part of the YOG’s Education Program and will consist of students from UNIL’s Institute of Sports Science (ISSUL) as well as osteopathy students from the Fribourg School of Health Sciences (HEdS-FR). The students will be supervised by specialists from their respective schools.
Drawing on the universities’ expertise, the delegation will examine over 4,000 athletes aged 15 to 18 who are scheduled to take part in this third edition of the Summer YOG. The examinations will include full evaluations of the athletes’ musculoskeletal systems and posture. The results will be used to give athletes personalized advice for improving their physical performance and preventing injury. All this data will be managed using a special digital platform being provided by an EPFL start-up.
According to Stéphane Maeder, head of the Sports and Health Centre (CSS) at University Sports Lausanne, this will be an excellent learning experience for the students. "They will have an opportunity to examine high-level athletes competing internationally and see first-hand what goes on behind the scenes at this type of major sporting event. We are also working closely with INSEP, France’s national sports institute, to develop and implement our initiative."
The local universities are helping in other ways, too. The design for the tents where the athletes will be examined was developed by students in the Master of Science in Integrated Innovation (Innokick) program at HES-SO. The students worked on the design between September 2017 and June 2018, in association with EPFL. "It’s great recognition for their excellent work. Their ideas will be used right away for a major event," says Nathalie Nyffeler, head of the Innokick program.
This initiative is made possible thanks to Smart Move - a network of universities in western Switzerland. Smart Move was recently created to provide interdisciplinary responses to the main challenges facing the field of sports today. The universities’ participation in the 2018 YOG in Buenos Aires is a good example of the kinds of concrete solutions that such a network can provide.
According to Olivier Mutter, UNIL project manager for the YOG, this is the first tangible achievement of a lot of hard work. "We have been working with the IOC and the organization committee for two years on the Education Program for the 2020 YOG in Lausanne. And we’re excited to be entering the implementation phase for the YOG in Buenos Aires. These accomplishments speak to the value-added expertise our universities are able to provide."