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Olympic medal bonanza for Switzerland

30.09.2021 – MARC LETTAU

Switzerland ended the Tokyo Olympics on 13 medals – the biggest haul by the nation’s athletes since 1952. Three of these were gold, thanks to Belinda Bencic in the tennis, Nina Christen in the shooting, and Jolanda Neff in the mountain bike event. Neff’s podium ceremony was particularly gratifying, as the gold medal winner was flanked by two other Swiss riders, Sina Frei (silver) and Linda Indergand (bronze). Switzerland’s previous medal sweep came 85 years ago in gymnastics, at the 1936 Berlin games.

Taliban catch Switzerland unawares

The Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan wrong-footed the Swiss authorities, who were saying at the beginning of August that they would be proceeding with the repatriation of failed Afghan asylum seekers. Only days later came the U-turn. The same asylum seekers can now apply for hardship support and the right to stay. Furthermore, Switzerland is considering taking in refugees in particular need of protection. It has also withdrawn its aid workers from Afghanistan.

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis visits Thailand

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis visited Thailand in August as part of his tour of South East Asia. Swiss expats used his visit to complain that they are still waiting to be vaccinated. According to media reports, Cassis said he was going to recommend to the Thai authorities that they allow foreign nationals to get vaccinated – as is the practice in Switzerland. The Swiss embassy in Thailand took a pragmatic approach by organising vaccination appointments at a private hospital.

The new man at the FDP helm

Thierry Burkart is set to become the new leader of the FDP in Switzerland. The 45-year-old Aargau member of the Council of States is the only candidate for the post. He is due to be elected in October. Burkart will succeed Petra Gössi, who tried to give the FDP a greener image. Gössi resigned after the electorate rejected the CO2 Act – a piece of legislation that she had supported. Burkart is no friend of Gössi’s climate policies and belongs to the conservative wing of the party.

Murat Yakin is the new Switzerland coach

Murat Yakin is the new Swiss national football team coach. He succeeds Vladimir Petkovic, who surprisingly stepped down from the post this summer (see From zeroes to heroes). Yakin is well known in Swiss football. As a player, he had spells in the Bundesliga as well as a very successful stint at FC Basel. Teams that he has coached include FC Thun, FC Luzern, FC Basel and Spartak Moscow.

Picture  Mountain bikers Sina Frei, Jolanda Neff and Linda Indergand swept the medals at the Tokyo Olympics – the first all-Swiss podium since 1936. Photo: Keystone