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  • OpEd: Minsk 2019 One Year to Go


    By Janez Kocijančič, EOC President

    21 June 2018

    EOC president Janez Kocijančič (EOC)
    One year from today, over 4,000 of the best athletes from all 50 European National Olympic Committees (ENOCs) will gather in Minsk, Belarus, for the start of the second edition of Europe’s premier multi-sport event, the European Games.

    The Minsk European Games Organizing Committee (MEGOC) is preparing to host a Games that will provide the athletes with the best conditions on and off the field of play, spectators with world-class sporting competition, and local citizens with many positive and long-lasting legacies.

    This includes a new culture of sports volunteerism. Over 8,000 applications for volunteers have been received so far, while 50 Minsk 2019 volunteers are already learning the ropes in roles with the organizers of the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Some 4,000 volunteers will receive on-the-job training at the many test events planned in the lead-up to next summer’s European Games.

    The European Olympic Committees (EOC) has also worked closely with the Minsk organizers to ensure that the principles contained in the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s reform packages Olympic Agenda 2020 and the New Norm are applied wherever possible, in particular measures related to sustainability and cost-effectiveness. Of the 12 competition venues to be used at Minsk 2019, for example, 11 are existing facilities. Only the beach soccer venue had to be built from scratch, with renovations required at the shooting venue and Dinamo Stadium, which re-opened to the public today.

    It is our ambition to develop the European Games into the second most important sporting event on the calendar behind the Olympic Games. We remain steadfastly committed to accomplishing our goal with the support of our stakeholders, including the IOC, the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), the ENOCs, and the European sports federations.

    Minsk is hosting the second European Games in one year (EOC)
    With a highly successful first edition of the Games in Baku in 2015 already under our belts, and with full confidence in Minsk 2019, we feel that we are well on our way to making this goal a reality.

    Our mission has been encouraged by the positive initiatives we have already received from cities across Europe to host the third edition of the Games. We are eager to unveil the cities this September at our next General Assembly and are delighted with the range of geographic locations, backgrounds and visions for hosting the European Games.

    Europe is the last continent to host its own multi-sport Games. And yet, we are the continent that has historically won the lion’s share of the medals at both the summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games. The EOC is proud of this accomplishment, of its athletes, and of the leading role we play in shaping the future of sport, Olympic and otherwise.

    With this in mind, our intention with the European Games is for it to be a world leader in terms of innovation and youth engagement. Next year in Minsk, for example, we will welcome a number of youth-oriented sport disciplines such as 3x3 basketball, which will be making its first Olympic Games’ appearance a year later at Tokyo 2020, and the increasingly popular beach soccer.

    A revolutionary new athletics competition will also be making its debut at Minsk 2019. Dynamic New Athletics, or DNA, is being billed as “a compact and unpredictable mixed-gender, team-based format, designed to present a more alternative, modernised version of athletics and engage new and younger audiences.” The EOC is excited to see its inclusion on the sports programme for Minsk 2019 and will continue to encourage our stakeholders to push the envelope in sports, which has long been a defining characteristic of our continent.

    With One Year to Go until the European Games Minsk 2019, there is still a great deal of work to be done. But I am confident that Minsk will be a more than capable host of the second edition of the Games, which the EOC is committed to making a household name that will showcase the very best that all of Europe has to offer.

    We look forward to seeing you in Minsk next year.

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