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What is the secret to Switzerland’s Olympic success?

Switzerland has 12 medals - three of them gold - and counting, which is already one of the best results in history. For a diverse nation with a small population, why is Switzerland suddenly good at sports?

What is the secret to Switzerland's Olympic success?
Switzerland has already doubled its medal tally from the 2016 games. Photo: Tiziana FABI / AFP

On Saturday, Belinda Bencic managed something that Swiss tennis superstars Roger Federer and Martina Hingis were unable to do in their long careers – win Olympic gold. 

But the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – taking place of course in 2021 due to the Covid pandemic – have not just been successful for Bencic. 

As at Monday, August 2nd, Switzerland has won three gold medals along with four silver and five bronze. 

With 12 total medals, this places Switzerland at 15th on the tally, just between Canada and Brazil. 

With more medal chances to come, it’s already become Switzerland’s most successful games since at least the 1952 games in Helsinki, when Switzerland won 14 medals. 

With six days to go, Switzerland has already eclipsed its target of seven medals and could also eclipse the Helsinki mark. 

In fact, it’s not without question that Switzerland could eclipse its mark of 20 medals at the 1948 London Olympics, although the best ever result of 25 at the Paris 1924 games seems out of reach. 

Why is Switzerland suddenly good at sports? 

Other than a few outliers – including the aforementioned Federer and Hingis – Switzerland’s sporting success has been relatively minimal historically. 

In addition to Olympic medals, Switzerland’s Euro 2020 campaign saw them beat favourites France to advance to the quarter finals, where they lost to Spain on penalties. 

‘We don’t like France, Germany or Italy’: How linguistic diversity unites Swiss football fans

One major reason is Switzerland’s women, which is perhaps pertinent that 2021 is the 50-year anniversary of women winning the vote. 

EXPLAINED: What happened after Swiss women got the right to vote in 1971?

Swiss women have won nine of the 12 medals at this years olympics, including all three gold. 

Two Swiss women have made it to the final of the women’s 100 metres, Ajla Del Ponte and Mujinga Kambundji, the pinnacle of athletics at the games. 

And while it might appear to be a coincidence – or one motivated by the anniversary of (almost) universal suffrage – in typical Swiss fashion there’s actually a lot of planning and organisation behind the seeming coincidence. 

“Overwhelming” success spurred on by women’s sport programs

Switzerland’s olympic success – and particularly that of the women – has come about by design. 

The Swiss lottery (Swisslos) supports sport and other cultural programs throughout the country.

In 2020, Swisslos transferred CHF429 million to sporting and cultural areas, of which CHF140 million went directly to sport, supporting 5,000 sporting organisations in the process. 

In successive decades, the Swiss national olympic sport organisation Swiss Olympic has been continually supported by state funds, but has also been guaranteed independence from government in operating decisions in order to ensure sporting development is the major focus. 

Swiss Olympic was given an extra CHF30 million in 2018 – an amount that has been given again each year since. 

Federal Councilor and Minister of Sport Viola Amherd has made women’s sport a central priority in Switzerland, with the country developing several ways of supporting women in sport. 

Amherd has called upon all major Swiss sporting associations to support women’s sport wherever possible, while threatening those that don’t with a cut in funding. 

This has been matched by a continued focus by the International Olympic Committee, who have added more female and mixed disciplines to its program this year. 

Several Swiss female Olympians are currently a part of the Swiss army, where they receive financial support and can work flexible hours to allow them time to train and compete. 

Shooter Nina Christen, who won gold and bronze at this Olympics, is a member of the military, as are medal-winning cyclists Jolanda Neff, Sina Frei and Linda Indergand. 

In total there are 410 athletes who are a part of the military in some form. 

The chief of the Olympic mission Ralph Stöckli said the “overwhelming” success of the Swiss olympians could be credited to the focus on women athletes. 

“It didn’t exist in this form in the past. The advancement of women is now paying off.”

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How can I watch the Cricket World Cup in Switzerland?

The Cricket World Cup is being hosted in India this year, lasting over a month from October 5th to November 19th. How can you follow the tournament if you live in Switzerland?

How can I watch the Cricket World Cup in Switzerland?

When and where is the World Cup taking place?

India is 3 hours and 30 minutes ahead of Switzerland, meaning that matches start between 6am and 10.30am, Swiss time.

This is the world cup in One Day International (ODI) cricket, meaning that there will be only two innings, with each inning lasting a maximum of 50 overs.

With games lasting up to nine hours, however, you should still be able to catch some of the action even on work days.

There are 10 countries participating – India, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, England, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Netherlands and Australia – playing a total of 48 matches.

READ ALSO: Where can I watch the Rugby World Cup in Switzerland?

When do matches start?

One match will be played per day until November 12th (apart from November 4th and November 11th, where two matches will be played). The semi-finals will take place on November 15th and 16th, and the final will start at 9.30am on Sunday November 19th.

Until October 29th, almost all matches start at 10.30am Swiss time, apart from two matches starting at 7am on October 21st (Netherlands vs Sri Lanka) and October 27th (Australia vs New Zealand).

From October 30th until the final on November 19th, matches will instead start at 9.30am, with a couple of exceptions – New Zealand vs Pakistan on November 4th, and Australia vs Bangladesh on November 11th, which will both start at 6am Swiss time.

Can I watch it on Swiss TV?

Unfortunately not. Cricket is not a hugely popular sport in Switzerland, although there is a national cricket association, called Cricket Switzerland. It is associated with over 30 clubs and schools, and has more than 750 registered senior and 600 junior cricketers.

Swiss broadcasters like SRF will be summing up the action of the Cricket World Cup in their regular reports. But it doesn’t appear that Switzerland’s regular sport streaming services are broadcasting the matches. That means your best bet is to find somewhere you can stream them using a VPN.

With a VPN, you’re able to virtually change your location on your device, meaning you can access the matches on a foreign streaming service.

The bad news is you may need to shell out for a subscription to a foreign sports service on top of potentially paying for a VPN, and you should be aware that some of these services will actively try and block any VPN users, so it’s worth considering the risk that your stream of choice may not work before you hand over your credit card details.

Is it legal to use a VPN to stream sports broadcast abroad?

It is legal in Switzerland to use a VPN, as is the case in most European countries, but it depends on the intended use. Is isn’t legal if you’re using it for anything that wouldn’t be permitted if you weren’t using the VPN. As such, you should bear in mind that it might violate the terms of service of the streaming service you’re using.

Is there anywhere I can watch it without using a VPN?

Some of The Local’s readers have recommended Indian streaming site YuppTV, which offers a Cricket World Cup package for €24.99.

Posts from cricket fans on social media seem to suggest that YuppTV’s World Cup package offers video quality of around 720p and includes adverts.

We can’t verify whether this website will work in Switzerland or not, and there are some negative reviews for YuppTV on Trustpilot from people who have had login problems with the World Cup package specifically, so try it at your own risk.

What about pubs or restaurants?

The early starts for many games, as well as the fact cricket is not a big sport in Switzerland, mean that few pubs or restaurants will be showing them. But you could try contacting your local sports bar, English pub or Irish bar to ask if they’d be willing to show part of the matches taking place within standard opening hours.

We also found reviews for the Oliver Twist pub in Zurich, saying it shows cricket games.

Establishments are more likely to show a match if you have a group of friends who would be interested in watching a particular match and if there’s no other major sport fixture on that day, but it’s worth getting in touch and asking them.