05 Nov 2022

Flame of Peace Lit for European Youth Olympic Festival Friuli Venezia Giulia 2023

Categories: EYOF · Press Releases

Excitement around the 16th Winter European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) Friuli Venezia Giulia 2023 reached a new level today, as the Flame of Peace was lit in Rome at the Ara Pacis Augustae, an ancient alter that was built to honour the values of peace and fraternity throughout the Roman empire.

With just under 80 days to go until the start of the winter edition of the EYOF in Italy, representatives of the European Olympic Committees (EOC), the Italian Government, the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI), the EYOF Friuli Venezia Giulia 2023 Organising Committee and the Municipality of Rome assembled on this special occasion to celebrate peace and harmony through sport.

President of the EOC Spyros Capralos addressed the delegates, stating, “It is an honour to once again host this symbolic ceremony at the Ara Pacis here in Rome. This event is always special but today this historic venue bears even greater significance with next year’s EYOF being hosted in Italy, 30 years on from the first-ever Winter EYOF in the Aosta valley.”

He went on to say “Following the success of Vuokatti 2022, I am sure we will once again see a display of immense talent and competition in Friuli Venezia Giulia.”

Attending the ceremony were also EOC Vice President Daina Gudzinevičiūtė and Secretary General Raffaele Pagnozzi.

Pagnozzi, who has been CONI Secretary General for 10 years, said: “Steeped in tradition, Italy has been a source of pride in European winter sport for many years. Our hosts next year will present a formidable challenge to the athletes from the 47 NOCs that will participate at the event.”

CONI President Giovanni Malagò said, “The ceremony for the lighting of the flame of peace is a significant moment on the path to EYOF Friuli Venezia Giulia 2023. It is magnificent to feel the anticipation for this event building across the continent and it highlights the importance of this competition for our young athletes. It is an honour to have the opportunity to host the winter edition of this competition after successfully hosting the summer edition in 2005. After the ceremony, the flame will travel across several regions throughout Italy to spread the meaning of the Olympism and the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship.”

President Capralos led the formal proceedings, handing over of The Dea Pax Golden Olive Tree sculpture, a symbol of peace and friendship, to the President of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, Massimiliano Fedriga, and the President of the Organising Committee, Maurizio Dunhoffer. Following this, gold medallist at the World Youth Championships in biathlon, Sara Scattolo, lit the Torch and passed it to President Capralos, who then handed it over to Mr. Fedriga and Mr. Dunhoffer to mark the start of the exciting journey to EYOF Friuli Venezia Giulia 2023.

The “Road to EYOF 2023” begins with the torch’s visit to the Republic of San Marino, for the first of ten stops on the journey to Friuli Venezia Giulia. The torch will then travel on board the Io Sono Friuli Venezia Giulia truck accompanied by the EYOF Friuli Venezia Giulia 2023 mascot KUGY, the marmot, and athletes from the region: Sara Scattolo, Francesco Cecon, ski jumping sensation, and Mara Martini, national ski mountaineering champion.

President Fedriga stated, “The Flame is an iconic symbol of peace, friendship and hope that embodies the ability to bring together people from different nations, cultures, languages and traditions. It represents the profound meaning of unity in diversity.

“But the lighting of the flame is also a ritual, endowed with a function that in other times was given to the messengers of peace. Today, this call to harmony is translated into the journey that the torch will take from Rome through Italy and its symbolic cities until it reaches Piazza Unità d’Italia on 21 January for the opening ceremony of the Festival.”

The 16th edition of the winter EYOF will see 2,300 participants, including 1,300 athletes from 47 NOCs aged 14 to 18, competing across 14 sporting events. Approximately 1,300 volunteers will be present to ensure the competition runs smoothly, while athletes will gather in Friuli Venezia Giulia to compete in what is sure to be a memorable event from 21-28 January 2023.