An official ceremony marking the final stage in the journey to the 2017 European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) took place in Rome today, as the European Olympic Committees (EOC), Hungarian Olympic Committee, and Györ EYOF 2017 Organising Committee came together to celebrate the peace and unity which will be showcased throughout the event.
The ceremony took place at the historic Ara Pacis Museum – home to the ninth century Ara Pacis altar which is dedicated to peace. The milestone event was attended by up to 100 senior European delegates including EOC Acting President Janez Kocijančič; President of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) Giovanni Malago; IOC Member Mario Pescante; ASOIF President Francesco Ricci Bitti; and EOC Secretary General Raffaele Pagnozzi. Representatives from Hungary included President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee Krisztian Kulcsar; and Zsolt Borkai, President of the Györ EYOF 2017 Organising Committee and Mayor of Györ.
During the ceremony, the Acting President Kocijančič presented President Kulcsar with The Dea Pax Golden Olive Tree, to mark the peace and friendship between the two organisations. The Olive Tree was considered sacred by Dea Pax, the ancient Goddess of Peace, and the symbolic sculpture, made by the renowned sculptor and goldsmith, Nicola Amato, was designed in homage to these values.
Speaking during the ceremony, EOC Acting President Janez Kocijančič said:
“It is a great honour to have the privilege to stage the first official ceremony for the European Youth Olympic Festival here in this amazing Roman temple dedicated to peace. Our basic idea was to bring together the ideas of peace and youth. Peace and the Olympic Values should be core attributes in young people and we need to do all we can to promote that.
“The EYOF was established by the former IOC President Jacques Rogge more than a quarter of a century ago as he recognised the importance of investing in youth. Europe is the leading continent in world sport but to maintain this we have to make sure we continue to invest time and resources in our young people. EYOF provides young people with invaluable experience to become the future glory of Europe.”
The torch of the EYOF, which will burn in Györ’s ETO FC Stadium throughout the festival, was also lit during the ceremony. Five distinguished Hungarian athletes presented the torch to Acting President Kocijančič who in turn presented it to President Borkai, as a symbol of the sacred fire which lights the spirits of the young athletes. The torch and the Olive Tree will now be taken to Györ where they will remain until the end of the festival before returning to the EOC headquarters in Rome.
Speaking at the ceremony, President of CONI, Giovanni Malago said:
“It is a real pleasure to be here in Rome, in this unique place to host the ceremony for the European Youth Olympic Festival. The journey for the EYOF has officially begun and we look forward to taking part it in the festival in July. I am sure Györ will host a fantastic event.”
President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee Krisztian Kulcsar added:
“On behalf of the Hungarian Olympic Committee it is a great privilege to be here in Rome to receive the Oliver Tree and EYOF torch and to take it back with us to Hungary. As NOC President my most important role is to spread the values of Olympism and strengthen the Olympic Movement. For our young athletes, the EYOF 2017 will be their first experience of a multi-sport event, their first experience of enjoying the atmosphere of the athletes’ village and their first experience of supporting and cheering on their compatriots from other sports. It is one of the most important events for young athletes and will form the basis of their future careers.”
President of the Györ EYOF 2017 Organising Committee and Mayor of Györ, Borkai Zsolt, concluded:
“We have been waiting six years for this moment to come. We committed ourselves to hosting the event in 2011 and since then we have been working hard to make the event as successful as possible. The EYOF can develop a generation who represent the future. In July we could watch the future champions of Europe but even those athletes who do not achieve great success will become ambassadors of sport and healthy lifestyles. In July we’d like to provide an outstanding and unforgettable experience for everyone.”
To conclude the ceremony, the Musicanova choir performed a song composed for the EOC entitled ‘Shine’. The EYOF will shine a light on young athletes throughout Europe and give them an opportunity to showcase their talent on the international stage. The new EOC logo and look and feel has also been developed around the concept of a shining diamond made up of 50 pieces representing the 50 NOCs of the Olympic Family of Europe.