The 2nd European Games 2019 in Minsk have become history, but they are still fresh in the memory. The multisport event in the Belarusian capital has brought positive vibes to the entire Europe. Something similar has already happened in the sports history of this country during the Ice Hockey World Championships in 2014, which also made people speak of Belarus in different, sometimes even the most remote corners of the planet. The long-term effects of the Games - in the media and not only - is yet to be estimated, but their legacy for the host country can already be felt.
When starting the preparation, the organisers set a clear goal of working not for the sake of the 10 days of competitions, but for the materal and non-material legacy that the residents of Minsk and the entire country will continue to benefit from.
Even before the decision to hold the 2nd European Games 2019 in Minsk was taken, it was clear that with the exception two or three venues that needed construction or reconstruction, everything was ready for such a large-scale event.
Eventually, the only venue built from scratch was the Beach Soccer Stadium. It appeared largely thanks to the successful international performances of Team Belarus, which holds a solid place in the European top 10. After that, the Shooting Centre was constructed, or rather, reconstructed. Dynamo Stadium has also been received a brand new look, although its renovation was independent of the Games as it started before Minsk was chosen as the host city. However, this decision did accelerate the renovation of the stadium as well as the construction of a new dormitory building in the Students' Village that became the Athletes' Village at Games time. The other dormitories in the village were also renovated, and the students will be able to take advantage of the modern complex that includes the new modern-equipped polyclinic and stadium already in this academic year.
Another facility built right next to the Students' Village will also be an important part of the legacy of the Games, promoting healthy lifestyle. What was the Main Dining Hall at Games time is actually an appendix building to the Special Children's and Youth School of Olympic Reserve for Figure Skating. The building will soon feature new gyms and choreography halls, as well as sports playgrounds. These will be used for classes of children's and youth sports schools, as well as be available for all Minsk residents.
Minsk transport and infrastructure has also received a certain upgrade. Over 300 new vehicles purchased for the Games have now become part of the public transport system, while the ambulances fleet has been updated with new vans with cutting edge equipment.
The sports programme of the 2nd European Games 2019 was developed in close collaboration with the European Olympic Committees (EOC), as well as European federations and associations for various sports. A key point was in fulfilling the ideas of Olympic Agenda 2020, the strategic roadmap supported by the IOC. It declares the principles of sustainable development and cost reduction in the organising and staging major multi-sports events. The 2nd European Games 2019 fully complied with these principles. The limited down to necessary construction works, the arrival of delegations of athletes shortly before the competitions and their departure without delay all prove this point.
Another successful move for the image of the host country was the visa-free entry for the Games participants and supporters.
The organisers got about 50 suggestions from International Federations and Associations on adding this or that discipline to the competition programme of the 2nd European Games, but they were also well aware of their limits. Thus, the preference was given to the sports that offered qualification opportunities for the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Other factors that the organisers took into account were the existing infrastructure, as well as medal chances for Team Belarus. And they were proven right. A total of 69 medals (24 gold, 16 silver and 29 bronze ones) and the second place in the medal count were a truly historic achievement for the hosting country of a major multi-sport event. This result will remain an inspiration for the next generations of Belarusian athletes even when the details of the competition days are forgotten.
Volunteers' work at the 2nd European Games 2019 has been particularly appreciated. Their contribution to the overall success of the event has been indeed immense. In his speech at the Closing Ceremony, President Alexander Lukashenko made the point that a database for the volunteer movement in Belarus is to be created. This is both social legacy of the Games and a logical continuation of collaboration with proactive young people who strive for the better. Certainly, volunteer movement existed in Belarus before the Games, but it has become significantly more popular now. This enthusiasm can be used in organising new large-scale events.
High-quality local IT-product
When the Wall Street Journal dubbed Belarus the emerging ‘Silicon Valley’ of Eastern Europe, the country knew it had to do something spectacular to live up to the hefty title. The perfect opportunity arose as the country’s capital city Minsk prepared to host the 2nd European Games 2019 where the best local technologies would be put on display for the continent – and the world – to see. THe technological solution was developed entirely by the Minsk-based IT company Synesis Sport.
Simon Clegg, executive director of the 2nd European Games 2019, commended the Belarusian IT experts on the work done to equip the event with the latest technological tools: ‘The Minsk 2019 Games Management System developed by leading Belarusian technology company Synesis Sport has proved a highly effective tool in the overall management of the highly successful 2nd European Games 2019. Developed within only a very short lead time, the robust integrated system has worked extremely well under stressful conditions and will, I’m sure, be of interest to future event organisers.’
Indeed, the technological aspect was highly spoken of during and after the Games. The developers opted for creating their own product instead of using the existing standard and expensive platforms. Almost all solutions have been developed in Belarus, from the official Lesik chatbot (a mobile application running on Android and iOS platforms) to 3D panoramas of the venues to closed messengers for organisers and volunteers; from the Games website with live results and schedule, news content and other information (participating countries, athletes, venues, sponsors and partners, cultural programme and visa-free entry to the country) to the Games Management System called LOOM that covered every single process (accreditation, transport, arrival and departure, accommodation, logistics, personnel management, etc.). In total, 15 different modules functioned within the LOOM system.
The technological solution for the 2nd European Games 2019 can be further used for other sports events held in the country. One of the strongest points of the system is that it can be adapted for other events – both single and multi-sports, including the 2021 IIHF World Championship, which will be co-hosted by Belarus and Latvia.
European Olympic Committees laud the 2nd European Games 2019
The 2nd European Games 2019 in Minsk were at a world-class level, stated the President of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) Janez Kocijancic at the closing press conference of the event.
– MEGOC demonstrated excellent work, all issues were resolved very quickly. We believe without a doubt that the Games were held at a high level and their legacy will stay on, said Janez Kocijancic.
Millions of viewers in 195 countries and territories of the world saw the competitions. Coordination Commission Chair of the 2nd European Games 2019 Spyros Capralos believes that the event exceeded all expectations. ‘We have often been visiting Minsk in the past few years, and we have seen the dedicated work of everyone involved in the staging and preparation of the Games. Everyone strived towards the common goal. When participants of competitions arrived to the Athletes' Village – they were delighted! The rooms were excellent, the food was excellent, even the transport system functioned smoothly, even though it is usually one of the biggest issues at major events. And the venues, of course, were excellent, too’, claimed the Commission Chair.
The Games participants and guests were able to enjoy a host city that is both beautiful. ‘I would like to congratulate everyone, and MEGOC in particular, on the success of this event,’ concluded Spyros Capralos.
The Games were a true success!
George Katulin, MEGOC CEO:
– We can speak now of our dreams having become reality. When we just started the preparation for the 2nd European Games 2019, we aimed at making an excellent sports event, as well as at demonstrating Belarus's potential in business and in tourism. We are also delighted that athletes from all 50 countries of Europe have participated in the Games. A huge thank you to the volunteers who made this event possible. Thank you to all the fans who supported the athletes and inspired their new achievements. We have all been able to witness how the Olympic movement is growing. I would also like to express my gratitude to the entire team that has been engaged in this international project.
The experience in organising the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, unique shows with intricate storylines involving the national culture and history of Belarus, will also be part of the legacy of the Games.
Hundreds of professionals from various industries were engaged in the organisation of the event. Importantly, this project will have a future in this country, as we have improved the work with the human resources and the collaboration with all levels of authorities, and this experience and potential can be used with mutual benefits for other large-scale projects.
We hope that the 2nd European Games 2019 have inspired thousands of young people towards a healthy lifestyle, and that the best athletes of Europe have motivated young generations for a sports career.