Baku, April 13, AZERTAC
The Flame of Peace for the Baku 2019 European Youth Olympic Festival was lit in Rome at an elaborate Shine Ceremony held at the Ara Pacis Augustae, a monument built by Emperor Augustus to celebrate peace throughout the Roman empire.
Representatives from the European Olympic Committees (EOC), the local organizing committee for the EYOF and regional dignitaries were on hand to celebrate the lighting of the torch, held exactly 100 days before the start of the event that will run from 21-27 July.
“We are convinced that Baku 2019 will be one of the best, if not the best, European Olympic Festivals in history,” said EOC President Janez Kocijančič. “There are not many nations in the world with such excellent infrastructure as Azerbaijan and we have already had great experiences in Baku, with a splendid first edition of the European Games and the Islamic Solidarity Games and F1, which I also attended, that were organized in a perfect way. So yes, I expect this 15th edition of the EYOF to be the best yet.”
Joining President Kocijančič from the EOC were Vice President Niels Nygaard, Secretary General Raffaele Pagnozzi and Executive Committee Members Spyros Capralos, Zlatko Matesa, Djordje Visacki, and Liney Halldorsdottir.
The delegation from Azerbaijan included the country’s Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov, who is also Deputy Chair of the Baku 2019 Organizing Committee; Vice-President of Azerbaijan National Olympic Committee Chingiz Huseynzada; and athletes Farid Mansurov, gold medalist at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Greco-Roman wrestling; Karamat Huseynov, gold medalist at the 2016 Junior European Judo Cup; and Raziya Aliyeva, gold medalist at the 2018 Junior Azerbaijan Volleyball Championship and participating athlete at EYOF Baku 2019.
“We have gained a lot of experience from hosting different major international events over the last few years,” said Minister Rahimov, referring to the European Games in 2015, the Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017, and, annually since 2016, the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, among others. “We will organize the EYOF with our own high-level specialists, for example. This is in comparison to 2015 for the European Games, where we relied on over 600 international specialists to help us, and 60 international experts two years later for the Islamic Games. This is a great legacy, as we are now able to host such events using our own experts.”
In addition to the flame, the representatives from Baku 2019 were presented with The Dea Pax Golden Olive Tree sculpture, a symbol of peace and friendship whose branches represent the unfolding of the EOC umbrella to receive athletes from all European National Olympic Committees (ENOCs).
The olive tree was considered sacred by Dea Pax, the Roman goddess of peace, and the sculpture, made by the renowned sculptor and goldsmith Nicola Amato, was designed in homage to these values.
Representing the Italian government was Giancarlo Giorgetti, Undersecretary of State to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.
Secretary General of the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) Carlo Mornati was also present and addressed participants.
Prior to the Shine Ceremony, the EOC held a press conference that was live-streamed on its social media channels and included questions from journalists around the world.
Baku 2019 will feature seven days of competition in 10 sports at 12 competition venues, all of which are already existing, making this edition of the EYOF also one of the most sustainable. Wrestling will join the EYOF programme for the first time this year.
Some 3,600 athletes and team officials from all 50 ENOCs are expected to take part, assisted by 2,500 volunteers. The EYOF is the leading European multi-sport event for young athletes aged 14 to 18.
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