The 47th General Assembly of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) got under way today in Marbella, Spain with a welcome address by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, who spoke of the need to protect the European Sport Model.
“Our European Sport Model is based on solidarity, inclusivity and millions of volunteers across our continent,” Bach said. “Our European Sport Model is under pressure, if not under threat. The value of an organisation, of an activity, is no longer determined by the contribution to society but just on money and markets. We are entering into serious problems as this purely market approach ignores the societal contribution sport has all over Europe … We have to start defending our European Sport Model. It is not only about our own interests, it is in the interest of European society.”
EOC President Janez Kocijančič told the IOC President that he could count on the support of the European National Olympic Committees in preserving the European model from purely market forces.
“We are the strongest continent in sport, collecting 50 percent of medals in the summer Olympic Games and over 70 percent in the Olympic Winter Games,” Kojiančič said. “This gives us not only pride but responsibility. The Olympic Games and the IOC are based on the structure of the European Sports Model. It starts from the grassroots level, sport for all, and goes all the way up to the elite competition.
“Our model is based on values and youth – a healthy spirit and healthy body. If you let through only the market and money values, you endanger our model,” the EOC President continued. “We should speak quite openly about the social inclusivity of sport and the dangers of the neoliberal approach where everything is based on money.”
The Assembly heard from the organisers of next year’s European Games in Minsk, Games of the Small States of Europe in Montenegro, and winter and summer editions of the European Youth Olympic Festival in Sarajevo & East Sarajevo and Baku, respectively.
Spyros Capralos, the Coordination Commission Chair for the European Games Minsk 2019, said preparations for the second edition of Europe’s premier multisport event were progressing well with seven and a half months to go to the 21-30 June event.
“MEGOC is well structured and working very hard to make a successful European Games,” said Capralos. “In line with Olympic Agenda 2020, all but one of the sport and non-sport facilities are existing venues. All are operational already and waiting for the best European athletes next June. Belarus has a great history of hosting sports events and they are eagerly waiting the opportunity to host the European Games.”
Capralos added that hotel rooms and tickets, which go on sale 1 December, are reasonably priced and the fact that visa requirements have been waived coupled with free public transportation for accredited clients groups during the Games will make the Minsk 2019 an attractive destination next year.
“Our presentation was really comprehensive. It contained all the details of our preparation to the 2nd European Games, some features that are of particular interest to the EOC,” said George Katulin. We’ve already had an opportunity to talk with a range of presidents of the European NOCs, and they evaluated it as very informative. Importantly, our colleagues noted the atmosphere of the preparation in Belarus. Having only one follow-up question from the Norwegian NOC reflects the success of our presentation.”