Fares El-Bakh of Qatar, known as Meso Hassouna, will be in Lausanne for the Street Weightlifting Competition ©Getty Images

An Olympic champion from Qatar, a world champion from Colombia and a host of European athletes will be on the streets in the "Olympic capital" of Lausanne on Saturday as weightlifting takes a step outside its usual surrounds to stage an outdoor mixed gender team event.

Changing the way weightlifting is presented and making it more accessible to a mainstream audience have been hot topics in recent months, most notably in China and the United States.

The need for innovation in the 21st century was outlined to members of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) at their Congress in January by Jean-Marc Exhenry, the governing body’s business development specialist.

Exhenry is one of the driving forces behind the first IWF Street Weightlifting Competition, which will be staged in the Quartier du Flon in Lausanne on Saturday (April 23), the Swiss city where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has its headquarters.

Meso Hassona, who became Qatar’s first Olympic champion in any sport when he won the 96kg in Tokyo last year, is "thrilled and honoured to contribute back to the sport and the weightlifting community" at the event.

He has the highest profile of the 14 athletes taking part but not the highest number of social media followers.

The winner in that respect is Yazmin Zammit Stevens from Malta, who has more than 140,000 Instagram followers, compared to Meso's 81,000.

"I am looking forward to being among the best in weightlifting in this unique event, where we all come together for equality, diversity, and clean sport," Stevens said.

Others with a good popularity rating include Britain's Fraer Morrow, with 41,000 Instagram followers, the Colombian Lesman Paredes with 27,000 and Martina Bomben of Italy with 25,000.

These numbers matter to the sport, which has been slow to keep pace with lifestyle changes in the past two decades and does not promote itself as well as others on social media.

That point was made by Zhou Jinqiang, President of the Chinese Weightlifting Association - whose partners include TikTok, which has more than a billion users.

"It is high time that reforms should be done," Zhou told insidethegames in January, when he suggested that weightlifting should be hosted in different competition venues to bring it nearer to a new audience - for example, shopping malls, parks and residential communities.

USA Weightlifting's director of international relations, Ursula Papandrea, is overseeing a Friendship Cup for mixed teams in June, to run alongside the US National Championships.

Papandrea, a former interim President of the IWF, has had interest from 10 countries, including Colombia, Armenia and Uganda.

She will be in Lausanne on Saturday to watch the street competition, as will many more officials from within the IWF's membership and, hopefully some guests from the IOC.

Mike Irani, who took over from Papandrea 18 months ago, said: "This format can bring weightlifting into town centres and showcases the fun and competitive spirit of our sport.

"We want to showcase how great our sport is in urban settings."

Meso and Stevens have both been named IWF Athlete Ambassadors, along with another Olympic champion, Hidilyn Diaz from the Philippines, and Paredes, who defeated Meso to become world champion in 96kg last year.

Diaz, who has more than 270,000 Instagram followers, will not compete in Lausanne.

The IWF Street Competition is sponsored by the Swedish equipment manufacturer Eleiko, whose chief executive Erik Blomberg said the event "brings an exciting new dynamic and energy to the sport and will undoubtedly inspire more people to try weightlifting and spark a passion for strength training."

The format will be mixed teams of two lifting on a round-robin basis, which means they must all complete their first attempts before progressing to the second, and so on.

The teams are given two minutes to prepare and two minutes to complete both their lifts - and if either of them has a "no lift" it counts for the team, not just the individual.

Results are converted into Robi points to determine the finishing order.

The national teams are: Fabio Pizzolato and Martina Bomben for Italy; Garance Rigaud and Romain Imadouchene for France; Bernadette Werle and Dominik Certov for Austria; Yannick Tschan and Scheila Meister for Switzerland; Sabine Kusterer and Ruben Hofmann for Germany.

The ambassadors' team is Meso and Stevens, while Morrow is paired with Paredes as the international team.

It starts at 1600 CET and the IWF will livestream the event.