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Managing risks Could base jumping face a ban in Switzerland?

Some Swiss politicians want to stop people risking their lives base jumping off high cliffs. An interpellation to the government calls for a nationwide ban on the sport, arguing that fatal accidents damage the country's image. 

Since 2000 there have been 82 deaths from people practising the sport in Switzerland, 59 of them in Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Oberland. The president of the Swiss Base Association, Marcel Geser, argues that there are more fatalities among hikers and motorcyclists than among jumpers. Official statistics confirm this. 

According to the Swiss Alpine Association, between 2014 and 2018, 257 people died while hiking. In motorbike accidents in 2017 alone, 51 people died, according to the Federal Statistical Office. A 2014 studyexternal link shows that 44% of the population go hiking. As many more people hike than base jump, it's not surprising that there are more deaths associated with hiking. Base jumping, meanwhile, remains a niche activity: 580 people registered in 2018 to jump in Lauterbrunnen.

Improving safety

Some politicians want to call a halt to the sport, concerned about the deaths and the image of Switzerland by association. Geser says a ban would make it even more unsafe. “People would jump in more precarious conditions,” he says.

Rather than imposing restrictions, he wants to increase safety by providing more training for jumpers. 

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