"Gigantism is detrimental"

"Gigantism is detrimental"

Jörg Schild discusses the requirements for a future bid to host the Olympic Games in Switzerland.

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Joerg Schild

Joerg Schild, President of Swiss Olympic

How many medals do you think we can expect for Switzerland?

I don’t have any expectations and am against medal counting. Anybody familiar with the Olympic Games knows that the results depend a lot on random circumstances and each athlete’s condition on any given day. Take Fabian Cancellara in London in 2012, for instance. Everything was working out just right until that one ominous curve. That’s why those of us at Swiss Olympic refrain from expressing any concrete expectations about medals. Personally, though, I’d love to see three to five but I definitely don’t want to put our athletes under any extra pressure.

Are you concerned that the uncertainties surrounding recent events in Brazil might have a negative impact on the athletes?

As Swiss Olympic, we are responsible for ensuring that our athletes find the very best conditions possible when they are on site. Key aspects for athletes at the Olympic Games mainly include a functioning transportation system as well as adequate accommodations and meals. We have to be absolutely certain of the delegation’s safety, however.

The Olympic Games have been growing in the past few years. Would hosting the Games in Switzerland in the near future despite concerns raised by the populace even be realistic?

The gigantism we’ve experienced during the last few Olympic Games is enormously detrimental to the credibility of sports. Sochi 2014 was probably one of the reasons why the people of the canton of Grisons rejected its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. That the IOC is attempting to counteract this megalomania somewhat with Agenda 2020 is important and the correct thing to do. It’s easier said than done, though, if you look at the locations hosting the upcoming Games. Which also makes it all the more important for Switzerland to step up and show that it can be done differently by making a bid as an economical, environmentally sustainable candidate for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games. Five regions have already officially registered their project for the national nomination process launched by Swiss Olympic with the goal of putting together a bid for the 2026 Winter Games. We now have a task force made up of prominent experts from the realms of politics, the environment, business, tourism and sports working on evaluating the projects to determine which project, if any, is suitable for an actual bid. But before they can even be submitted, certain basic conditions need to be met including offering some sort of benefit for sports in general as well as having the support of politicians, businesses and the citizens, in particular.

Is Switzerland focusing too heavily on popular sports while neglecting to provide targeted support for elite sports?

We consciously refrain from focusing too heavily on one or the other. Our promotion of popular sports works through association funds that we, as an umbrella association for sports, pay to our members. The associations have a lot more leeway here than when it comes to elite sports because our accountability obligations vis-a-vis the government and our partners are much higher for funds that flow into high-performance sports. This is also the reason why we have a certain duty to monitor our member associations. The lines between popular and elite sports are often fluid, however, and both play important roles in society: Just think about the positive contribution made by sports in terms of integration or health.

What are you personally looking forward to most at Rio 2016?

Watching our athletes! It’s as simple as that. 

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