The Coordination Commission of the European Olympic Committees was satisfied

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Banská Bystrica (September 30, 2021) – The European Olympic Youth Festival EYOF 2022, which will take place in Banská Bystrica from 24 to 30 July 2022, will be postponed for a year and will be the top youth event in Slovakia and its beginning is fast approaching. At the end of September, the organisers welcomed representatives of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) and briefed them on the state of preparations. The Coordination Commission, headed by its chairman Joseph Cassar from Malta, did not visit the town below Urpin for the first time, as he had checked already in the past how the organisation of this prestigious sporting event had progressed – probably the most comprehensive event which Slovakia could realistically organise.

The last check on the state of preparations took place in May 2021 via videoconference. “This September visit was important to us. I am pleasantly surprised by the potential of organisers, who prepare everything in accordance with our expectations, so that priority is given to athletes,” said Joseph Cassar after the inspection. He underlined that during the preparations, the organisers must think primarily of athletes. He also noted that the Banská Bystrica region offers a very good environment for organising a major event for the youth. “A lot of people will come here and the beauties of Banská Bystrica will become known to the whole of Europe,” he continued.

EYOF is a kind of youth equivalent of the Olympic Games. Participants experience an international atmosphere of friendship and respect. It is the largest multi-sport youth event in Europe. Among other things, it educates and motivates young people to practice sports and live a healthy lifestyle, which is why it will be of great benefit to Slovakia. “Organising such an important event is a great opportunity for the city. Although the situation is complicated by covid and many reconstructions or modifications of sports facilities as well, I am very glad that the foreign visit appreciated our efforts. Currently, the biggest challenge for us is to solve the accommodation of all participants, athletes and implementation teams at university dormitories in Banská Bystrica,” says the mayor of Banská Bystrica Ján Nosko, who is the president of the organising committee EYOF 2022. He also recalled that the top youth event is prepared on the principle of sustainability, with a strong emphasis on the environment side of matter. “We are preparing everything so that in addition to quality, we also take care to create the smallest possible environmental burden,“ remarked the mayor of Banská Bystrica.

Joseph Cassar also highlighted the role of volunteers at such a large event. “I am glad that so many people want to help. You are looking for more than 1,200 of them. Volunteers are very much needed for such a sporting event and they do a great job.“

Satisfaction was also presented by EOC sports director Peter Brüll. “This visit was very important, because the whole commission took part in it and many of its members had the first chance to see all the sports or accommodation facilities. We agreed that Banská Bystrica is a city of the right size for the organisation of EYOF. It’s large enough, but not too large. It is very important for the city to be visible on the map of Europe, as there will be participants from 50 European countries and the beauties of the city and the surrounding nature will be seen. Especially for children in the city, there will be a chance to see top junior athletes and maybe get the motivation to start a new sport and grow new Olympians,” said a Slovak native living in Finland for a long time, adding: ”There are still many things that need to be done.

Given how much time is left, the preparations are at an excellent stage. Sports facilities have suitable size for this event. They are not very large, but ones where there are quality conditions for top performances. Accommodation is also important, it is still necessary to work on it.”

For the Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee, the EYOF 2022 organisation is one of the most important events. Representatives of SOSC also participated in the inspection of sports facilities and the preparations themselves. “I am very glad that we were able to meet physically and the EOC Coordination Commission was able to come to Banská Bystrica to check the state of preparations. We are pleased that the outcomes are still positive. We have shown them everything, including things that we still have to complete. So far, I have a good feeling about this,“ says Jozef Liba, a member of the EYOF organising committee and general secretary of the SOSC. He added: „Sports facilities are gradually taking on a new character. The coronavirus pandemic is affecting the preparation of the event now and with a view to the following year. We do not know at what the entire situation will be and what the restrictions will be. We are trying to develop a model that could work in the summer of 2022. We give it an absolute priority.” The organisation of EYOF is very important for the region as well as for federations in individual sports.

Less than ten months and less than 300 days before the planned start of the event, Peter Hamaj, the director of the EYOF 2022 Organising Committee, emphasized that the reconstruction of other sports facilities, this time for athletics and gymnastics, had been completed in the last period. “The preparation of the athletic stadium is being finalized, it should open in October. At the end of the year, the winter stadium, as the hall for gymnastics, should be completed. And the stadium in Detva, where the public procurement is coming to an end, is still waiting for reconstruction. The biggest challenge for us is the gymnastics hall, because it is a winter stadium and we will not have space for a test event. It will also be complicated in terms of technical equipment,” he informed.

“At EYOF 2022 in Banská Bystrica, young athletes will compete in eleven sectors – athletics, badminton, basketball, road cycling, judo, handball, swimming, gymnastics, tennis, triathlon and volleyball. We have to prepare 14 sports facilities and after these two days of inspection we are convinced that the reconstructions will be completed on time. The coordination commission from abroad approved the deployment of sports facilities that meet their conditions within the time and logistical availability,” informed Marek Majerčák, the sports director of the event. He also reminded that several sports facilities designated for EYOF 2022 have hosted successful test events in recent months, and more are planned during the winter of this year and in the spring of next year. According to him, the support from the city is also excellent and the reconstructed sports facilities and infrastructure after the end of EYOF 2022 will be a great benefit for the inhabitants of the City of Banská Bystrica.

The head of the organisers, Peter Hamaj, also reminded that the heart of EYOF 2022 Banská Bystrica will be the Sports Park in Štiavničky, where six sports will find their home. “We should fine-tune the accommodation; we need to adjust the dormitories. It is also necessary to equip sports facilities. Athletes will be accommodated in dormitories in Banská Bystrica and Zvolen. This is our big challenge, because we have to accommodate over 6,000 people, which is almost all the capacity in the region,” he said.

EYOF 2022 in Banská Bystrica was originally supposed to take place in the summer of 2021, but the worldwide coronavirus pandemic caused its postponement by one year. The COVID-19 disease also had to be taken by the organisers as part of the preparations. If nothing unpredictable happens, testing before arriving at the venue will be a matter of course. Fans vaccinated, tested or after overcoming the disease are expected to enter the sports fields´ auditoriums. “Organising such a big event in Slovakia is an extremely hard challenge. This is the largest multi-sport event in our country. Finding the optimal solution is extremely challenging. However, this can bring many benefits to the region. This can be, for example, a restart of the business in the area of ​​accommodation or catering after a pandemic. Sports infrastructure will improve and there will be more investments, such as roads, energy security of sports facilities and so on,” said Hamaj. He added that the organisers expect approximately 7,000 accredited persons in the summer of 2022, of which 2,500 will be athletes. In addition, five-digit numbers of visitors are expected and more than 1,200 volunteers should take care of the overall course and comfort of the event participants.

An accompanying program for participants and spectators is a matter of course when organising the top event. The organisers are preparing a fan zone for fans, in which they will be able to try out several sports activities. The space at the SNP Memorial will also host a cultural program and various educational activities in the field of Olympics and environmental studies. And surely those interested will also meet the mascot of the event, which is the mining elf Permoník.

“We are preparing an opening ceremony which will include a large cultural program with the participation of important personalities. The closing ceremony will be held in the spirit of the official handing over of the flag to the next organiser of EYOF 2023, which will be in Maribor, Slovenia,” added Peter Hamaj.

The event is governed by the President of the Slovak Republic Zuzana Čaputová, the Minister of Defence Jaroslav Naď has a patronage over the EYOF safety concept and the Minister of the Environment Ján Budaj has a project on sustainability.

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