The starting whistle has been blown on the Expo Games, a festival of sport which will involve nearly 15,000 athletes from across the country.This content was published on July 11, 2002 - 22:55
The games - which will take place over the next six weeks - officially began on Thursday at an opening ceremony in the lakeside town of Yverdon, one of the venues for Switzerland's national exhibition, Expo.02, which runs until October.
Thousands attended the official start of the sporting activities which saw some participants take part in a fiercely competitive round of minigolf, while others tested themselves out on a specially built rock-climbing wall.
Shattering a world record
An unusual sporting world record was also shattered at the opening event, when Switzerland's Paul Sahli - a self-styled "foot juggler" - climbed a total of 37 rungs up a 30-metre ladder all the while juggling a ball with his feet.
Other sports in the games programme include cherry-stone spitting, competitive dancing and Frisbee golf.
The games will take on a distinctly winter flavour for one week in August, when snowboarders, bobsledders and tobogganists will battle it out on specially prepared artificial snow.
Meanwhile, the city of Biel - which is also playing host to the national exhibition - will be the venue for a water sports tournament which is set to include waterskiing, surfing and jet skiing.
Organisers of the games hope to capture the imagination of members of the public who would not otherwise join in any sporting activity.
"The aim is to ensure that everybody can feel like a sports star for a day," said ExpoGames.02 spokeswoman, Cornelia Forte.
Some of the biggest names in Swiss sport - including the national football coach, Köbi Kuhn - are scheduled to make guest appearances at several of the events over the next six weeks.
swissinfo with agencies