EYOF competitions kick off

NEWS 11.02.2019 10:33
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Source: N1

More than 1,500 athletes from 46 countries will start training and competing on Monday, the first day of the European Youth Olympic Festival that brought the Flame of Peace once again to Bosnia’s capital.

Athletes will be competing in speed skating, ice hockey, snowboarding, cross country skiing, biathlon and alpine skiing.

The flame was lit again in Sarajevo on Sunday evening after it burned during the Winter Olympic Games 35 years ago, a period which included four years of bloodshed that resulted in the country’s ethnic-based division.

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“This is a large step toward Olympic and other humane values, it should be a pointer toward cooperation and solving problems,” said European Olympic Committee head Janez Kocijancic in his speech during the opening ceremony.

“The youth of Sarajevo and Bosnia deserves a better and happy future. This experience will give you new strength for even bigger accomplishments,” he said.

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“It is a powerful emotion, I am truly proud. We have shown that we can and know how to organise such events,” Sarajevo’s Mayor Abdulah Skaka said.

Among the high profile guests at the event was the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev.

The ceremonial closing of the games will take place in Istocno Sarajevo, the Serb part of the capital.

The organisation of the Sarajevo & East Sarajevo 2019 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival, EYOF, is significant for Sarajevo as it is the result of cooperation between two parts of the city which was split during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

Bosnia is divided into two ethnic-based regions, the Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) and the Federation (FBiH), shared mostly by Bosniaks and Croats. The border runs through Sarajevo. Most political representatives of the two entities are at odds over essential issues such as whether the country should exist at all.

But the animosities took a back seat during the planning and the preparation of the games.

The spectacular opening gave hope to Bosnians that together they can achieve more, and in that spirit, the ceremony was named ‘We Create Together’. It reminded many of Sarajevo’s most glorious days as the host of the 1984 Winter Olympic Games.

Among those who competed in 1984 is Bojan Krizaj, who is considered the greatest Yugoslav and Slovenian skier of all times and a symbol for male alpine skiing in the region.

Source : N1

He spoke to N1 on Monday about the ceremony.

“This Olympic idea is truly something special. It is not just a medal, it is the companionship, simply the striving for new experiences, friends, something that can hardly be described with words, but being part of it is truly something that one never forgets,” he said.

Krizaj said he told the young athletes his story of what it was like 35 years ago at the 1984 Winter Olympics and how he forgot the words of the oath he was supposed to recite.

“I told them that sport is something good that comes up even after your sports career has ended, as that is also a part of life, it is a philosophy which never lies, which does not know hate,” he said.

He said he is emotionally tied to Sarajevo, as that is where he achieved the pinnacle of his career.