By Mike Rowbottom

The Olympic flame is handed over to a representative of the jointly hosted Winter European Youth Olympic Festival in Athens in January ©EYOF2015The European Winter Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) jointly hosted by Austria and Liechtenstein, which starts today, will serve as a historic guide to the Olympic Movement of how countries can share events, its chief executive Philipp Groborsch has said.

Following the unanimous approval of the 40 recommendations that make up Olympic Agenda 2020 - which include the possibility of joint Olympic bids from countries - last month, he believes the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will be watching how things are being done in Liechtenstein and Vorarlberg.

"We are a model for the IOC," Groborsch told insidethegames.

"I think that is 100 per cent what will happen.

"And I think what we are doing here is exactly in tune with the IOC Agenda 2020.

"We are expecting a lot of observers from the IOC.

"People from the IOC have lots of questions for us, not only about how it is possible for two countries to share such an event like this, but also how we handle the budget.

"We have learned some lessons from holding the Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck three years ago.

"The budget there was €23.7 million (£17.7 million/$27.6 million).

"But for the European Winter Youth Olympic Festival we are using just €6.5 million (£4.9 million/$7.3 million).

"Which is a little bit less than for Sochi 2014."

The EYOF 2015 delegation arrives back with the Olympic flame from Athens - with chief executive Philipp Groborsch second left  ©EYOF2015The EYOF 2015 delegation arrives back with the Olympic flame from Athens - with chief executive Philipp Groborsch second left  ©EYOF2015

Groborsch explained that the 2015 EYOF is also working in harmony with Olympic Agenda 2020's cost cutting initiative. 

 "We are only a small organising committee, 24 people," he said. 

"But we have a very good knowledge of the facilities available, and we have used ones which are already existing.

"We are in line again with the Agenda 2020 because we are reducing the cost by using existing facilities and infrastructure.

"We are not building any expensive athletes' villages.

"The National Olympic Committees have come and they think it is fantastic.

"When you talk about putting on sporting events, if you want to achieve 100 per cent, it is the last 10 per cent that really costs a lot of money.

"But if you have 90 per cent, and the NOCs are happy, that is a great solution.

"Why spend more?"

The historic element of the Festival has been enhanced by an unprecedented decision by both countries involved to open their border at a designated point to all accredited personnel for the duration of the competition, which will run until January 30, involving more than 900 young competitors from 45 of the 49 eligible European countries.

"This shows sport can do something special," Groborsch added.

"We said, 'Let's do something together.'

"This is sport bringing Governments together.

"For five days, the two countries will grow together into one."

Read the full story in the Big Read here.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
January 2015: Around 900 athletes from 45 nations arrive for European Youth Olympic Festival