Montenegro in spotlight as GSSE kicks off in style

28 May 2019

A two-hour Opening Ceremony got the 18th edition of the Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE) off to spectacular start on Monday in the Old Town of Budva, Montenegro.

The programme, directed by Nikola Vukčević, was based on the GSSE Montenegro 2019 motto “How Big We Are,” and prominently featured the history of the host country as well as the athletes from the European National Olympic Committees of Andorra, Cyprus, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro and San Marino.

With the help of an impressive set design, mesmerizing light and sound display, and verses from Njegoš’s poem Luča Mikrokozma, viewers were taken back to the ancient city of Budva where the printing of the sacred Orthodox liturgical book Oktoih was brought to life along with the melting of lead letters into bullets, which were used to defend against the Ottoman Empire.

The show continued with depictions of Montenegrin heroes and history, including Marko Miljanov, the Battle of Mojkovac, Princess Jelena, Ljubo Ćupić’s smile, the global solidarity shown to the area after the terrible earthquake of 1979, the restoration of independence in May 2006, and the golden lioness from London Olympics 2012.

“Let me thank you on behalf of the European Olympic Committee for your hospitality,” said EOC President Janez Kocijančič. “I congratulate you on the exceptional presentation of Montenegro, its past and future. You have shown that a small nation can have a great heart.”

Montenegrin Olympic Committee President Dušan Simonović welcomed the athletes with a message of peace and harmony.

“In the age of digital technologies and overall commercialization, it is easy to forget that sport is, above all, a game,” he said. “And the game is joy, emotion, freedom. The game enhances and connects us. Uniting in diversity and colorfulness. By embracing the original and fundamental Olympic values, we will compete in a spirit of friendship and represent a microcosm of the world. Today, the world is playing with us.”

“As President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach said, it does not matter whether we come from large or small countries. The only thing that counts is that we have a big heart in which passion for sports stands. I invite you to all together, in line with the motto of our Games … to create new sports connections and memories, and show ‘How big we are’,” Simonovic concluded.

A parade of nations was followed by the lighting of the cauldron by local handball player Bojana Popović. Montenegrin high jumper Marija Vuković took the athletes’ oath.

The Ceremony, which was opened by the Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković, ended with a fireworks display.

At the Games of Small States, 846 athletes from nine countries will compete in 10 sports over the next five days.

The Closing Ceremony is set to take place at the Athletes Village on Saturday 1 June and will see the attendance of IOC President Thomas Bach.

Flag bearers

ANDORA Xavier Folguera (Beach volleyball)

MALTA – Gianluca Chetcuti (Shooting)

SAN MARINO – Lorenzo Benvenuti (Volleyball)

ICELAND – Bjarnadottir Gudbjorg Jona (Athletics)

MONTENEGRO – Filip Radovic (Table tennis)

LUXEMBOURG – Kamil Rychlichi (Volleyball)

LIECHENSTEIN – Manuel Gahr (Beach volleyball)

CYPRUS – Andreas Makris (Shooting-trap)

MONACO – Erik Lanza (Shooting)

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