Celebrations for One Year to Go until the start of the 2nd European Games in Minsk were held across the Belarusian capital today and culminated with the re-opening of the iconic Dinamo Stadium and the unveiling of a Minsk 2019 Countdown Clock.
Members of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) joined the organisers of next year’s European Games for a full range of activities to mark the occasion.
The day began with a 10 km charity run from Dinamo Stadium to the headquarters of the Belarus National Olympic Committee. Proceeds from the run will go to a local charity that works with disadvantaged children.
The re-opening of Dinamo Stadium, which will host the athletics events at next year’s European Games as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, was commemorated with a music concert, athletics relay, football match and fireworks display. Renovation of the multi-purpose venue started long before Minsk was awarded the European Games and took six years to complete.
European Games Executive Director Simon Clegg said: “Tonight’s fantastic opening of the refurbished Dinamo Stadium marks an important milestone in the countdown to next year’s European Games. In exactly 365 days, the finest European athletes from 15 sports will be assembled here for the Opening Ceremony prior to competing for European Games’ glory and, in many instances, the opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.”
MEGOC CEO George Katulin added: “Tonight is a really exciting moment for me for a number of reasons. On a personal note, this is the second renovation of Dinamo Stadium that I have been involved with, the first being as a volunteer for the refurbishment ahead of the Olympic Games Moscow 1980 as we hosted some of the football matches. The Olympic cauldron is still a focal point within the stadium. The renovations also mean that the most important stadium in Belarus can continue to make history and will be a great continuation linking the Olympic Games of 1980 with the European Games of 2019. I am proud and happy for my team at MEGOC and all the sports fans in Belarus. This a really great celebration.”
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe and Belarusian Olympic sprint champion Yulia Nesterenko were on hand to start a 4x100 meter relay race featuring local youngsters. Tomorrow, the stadium will hold a track and field event which will serve as a test event for Minsk 2019 and feature teams from Belarus, Ukraine, and Baltic and Balkan countries.
A Minsk 2019 Countdown Clock located outside the Sports Palace, an official venue for the European Games, was also activated during the ceremony.
The Minsk European Games Organising Committee (MEGOC) also marked the occasion with the release of a new website for Minsk 2019: http://minsk2019.by/en
In total, 4,082 athletes from all 50 European National Olympic Committees will compete in 15 sports in Minsk: 3x3 basketball, archery, athletics, badminton, beach soccer, beach volleyball, boxing, canoe sprint, cycling, judo, karate, sambo, shooting, table tennis and wrestling. Ten of the 15 sports will act as qualifiers for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, with the European Games also counting as the official European championships for four sports.
The daily competition schedule of the sports programme during the Minsk 2019 European Games was recently approved by all European Federations involved. Click here for the full schedule.
There will be 91 men’s events, 89 women’s events and 21 mixed events in total, with 115 universality spots available. All 12 sporting venues, of which 11 are existing facilities, will be located a maximum 30 minutes’ drive from the Athletes’ Village, ensuring athletes can easily travel to training and competition facilities.