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Sports bodies bring CHF1 billion a year for Swiss

The IOC was the first major sporting body to set up in Switzerland Keystone

The 45 international sporting associations that have their headquarters in Switzerland, such as FIFA and the IOC, contribute CHF1.07 billion ($1.11 billion) to the Swiss economy annually, according to a Lausanne-based sports education body.

Just under half of the economic effect of hosting global sporting bodies (CHF550 million) is focused on canton Vaud that hosts a large number of such bodies. The city of Lausanne, home to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), benefits to the tune of CHF250 million.

The survey was carried out by the International Academy of Sports Science and TechnologyExternal link (IASTS), a non-profit educational facility that was set up by the IOC in 2000.

The same body conducted a more limited study of the economic impact of the IOC and 22 other organisations on the Lake Geneva region in 2007. That report found that the area netted some CHF200 million each year from the presence of such sporting bodies, half of it generated by the IOC.

The latest study found that the 45 associations spread over Switzerland employed some 2,000 people and attracted over 32,000 business trip overnight stays in 2013. Between 2008 and 2013, international sporting organisations contributed CHF366 million to the Swiss construction sector.

But in the last few years, the Swiss government and parliament have been examining some  unwanted reputational side effects of hosting such bodies. Events surrounding alleged corruption at world football’s governing body FIFA have forced Switzerland to tighten up its laws.

Last year, parliament voted to include senior officials of prominent sporting bodies on its list of politically exposed persons (PEPs) and tighten money laundering laws relating to cash transactions.

Sports organisations in Switzerland

The IOC was the first international sports body to come to Switzerland and has been in Lausanne since 1915.

Canton Vaud, of which Lausanne is the capital, is home to about 20 sports governing bodies. In addition to the IOC, they include the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the European football union UEFA, and the world bodies governing gymnastics (FIG), cycling (UCI) and volleyball (FIVB).

Among the organisations based elsewhere in Switzerland are the governing bodies of football, (FIFA in Zurich), basketball (Geneva), handball (Basel), ski (Oberhofen, canton Bern) and ice hockey (Zurich).

Switzerland is attractive to such governing bodies for many reasons: its geographic location, highly qualified work force, political stability, neutrality, security, quality of life, plus an attractive tax regime and legal code.

Sports bodies based in Switzerland enjoy association status. Associations are not obliged to register with the state nor to publish their accounts. They are granted tax breaks and flexible legal terms that allow them to govern their own affairs and are generally exempt from Swiss anti-corruption laws.
The IASTS survey reported on the average annual economic impact of all Swiss-based sports governing bodies between 2008 and 2013.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR