Team Poland looking forward to European Games in ‘home away from home’

29 March 2019

If there’s one National Olympic Committee (NOC) that’s feeling quite at ease with less than three months to go until the start of the Minsk 2019 European Games, it’s Poland.

Representatives from the Polish NOC joined counterparts from around Europe this week in the Belarusian capital for the third NOC Open Day to learn more about the final preparations for Europe’s premier multi-sport event, scheduled for 21-30 June.

And judging from a conversation with Chef de Mission for Team Poland Marzenna Koszewska and Olympics and Olympic Solidarity Projects Manager Joanna Huzarska-Tomaszewska, almost everything seems to be on track for a successful showing from the Polish contingent this 21-30 June.

“I know that Poland is a neighbouring country to Belarus, but when I first came here, I noticed that so many people speak Polish,” said Koszewska on her third visit to Minsk. “They are so nice to Polish people that we really feel at home here.”

That should definitely give Team Poland, whose delegation at Minsk 2019 is expected to number between 230 and 240 people (around 145 of whom will be athletes), an extra spring in their step when they arrive for the Games.

So too should the facilities and infrastructure, both on and off the field of play, which Koszewska had nothing but high praise for. “During my second visit [last July], we visited the venues. I was really, really impressed. I was jealous because in Poland we don’t have so many venues of such good quality!”

Twelve world-class venues will host 15 Olympic and non-Olympic sports at the Games, where over 4,000 of Europe’s best athletes will compete in 199 medal events. Even when not competing, the athletes are likely to feel extremely comfortable in their new surroundings.

“The city centre is really nice,” said Huzarska-Tomaszewska. “It’s clean, there are so many parks and pedestrian streets. For many people who are unable to visit Minsk before the European Games, I think they will be very nicely surprised. I’m really looking forward to these Games.”

One major improvement noticed by many of the NOC delegations this week was the progress made in the refurbishment of the Athletes’ Village at Minsk University, which was all very much a work in progress the last time they visited.

“I was looking forward to seeing the Athletes’ Village because we saw it last July during the Chefs de Mission meeting but it was a construction site at that time,” said Koszewska. “In my opinion, compared to many villages I have seen before at different events, including the Olympic Games, the state of preparations is quite good here.”

“There is a lot of space in the building,” continued Huzarska-Tomaszewska. “The apartments are very spacious and it’s only for four people, which is really nice. And I think the medical and office space is enough for even the big teams.”

The third and final NOC Open Day concluded today after two days of meetings on operational aspects and technical details. Participants were also given a venue tour on Day One, and a city tour on Day Two. The next event for the 50 European NOCs that will take part at Minsk 2019 will be a Communications Managers Seminar in Minsk from 25-27 April.