|More than 250 participants from the sports world and the EU political sphere attended the 6th edition of the European Evening of Sport, the European Olympic Committees (EOC) EU Office’s flagship event, organised every two years to foster discussion among those who shape and bring life to sport in Europe.
With an impressive number of major sports events taking place in Europe in the upcoming years such as Olympic and Paralympic Games, European Games, European and World Championships, and European Youth Olympic Festivals, Europe will be in the spotlight.
A panel featuring some of the main stakeholders involved in the organisation of major sports events, from the Olympic and Paralympic movement (International Olympic Committee – IOC, European Olympic Committees – EOC and International Paralympic Committee – IPC), sports events broadcasters (European Broadcasting Union – EBU) and athletes’ representatives, offered the audience different perspectives as to how sports events should respond to the challenges of our time and offer the best possible conditions to athletes while increasing attractiveness for fans.
Panellists agreed that the impact of major sports events goes far beyond sport and these major events should seek to leave positive social and economic legacies, while mitigating the possible negative environmental footprint. At best, major sports events can contribute to finding solutions for a number of challenges that our societies face.
In his keynote address, Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, declared: “I cannot remember a time when we have faced so many crises at the same time. The mission of sport in addressing all these crises and changes is to make the world a better place through sport”.
Sergii Bubka, President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, delivered a heartful address, expressing his thanks to the European sports family which continues to provide incredible support to Ukrainian athletes: “The sport movement reacted very strongly and showed firm unity. I would like to address my thanks to the IOC and the global Olympic community to support Ukraine. It is important for Ukraine that our flag continues to rise. Let’s stay together with Ukraine”.
Addressing the topics of major sports events in Europe, Spyros Capralos, President of the EOC, stressed: “For tonight’s discussions, we chose this topic as with the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris 2024 and the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Milano Cortina 2026, Europe will be in the spotlight in the next few years. Let me also highlight that today marks exactly 1 year to go to our premier event, the European Games, which will be held in Poland in 2023”.
Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee, brought in the perspective of Paralympic sport and spoke about the long-term impact of the Paralympic Games: “Paralympic Games are bringing amazing legacy to the host nations and beyond. Host nations should go the extra mile to enable people with disability to have the same rights as others. Legacy does not happen by chance. We need a vision”.
Emma Terho, Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, told the audience how she, as an Olympic athlete, would like sports events to evolve to minimise their environmental footprint, but also improve their representativeness of people from all backgrounds and genders.
Representing public service broadcasters, Glen Killane pitched in on the role of public service media to accompany the evolution of sports events: “Public media plays a huge role in working together with sport to make sure that the future of sport is secured, that we have the athletes of the future, and that sport brings people what they need”.
As a symbol of close cooperation and shared values, an Arrangement for Cooperation between the European Commission and the European Olympic Committees was officially signed by EOC President, Spyros Capralos, and Mariya Gabiel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Culture and Education, responsible for sport. With this, both institutions formalised their common objective of promoting the Olympic and EU values of tolerance, equality, respect for human rights and human dignity, non-discrimination, and solidarity, within a safeguarded European Sport Model.
“This Arrangement for Cooperation with the European Commission is the formal expression of a long-running and trusting relationship. The EOC events, including the European Games 2023, the European Youth Olympic Festivals 2022 and 2023 and the Games of the Small States of Europe 2023 will be great opportunities to promote the values that we share with the European Commission and apply the innovative solutions for major sports events that were discussed tonight” highlighted Spyros Capralos upon signing the landmark document.
Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Culture and Education, added: “Sport is about soul and values. These values are the ones we defend for our European model of sport, from equality and sustainability to good governance, fair-play, peace, inclusion and gender equality. I am proud to sign with President Spyros Capralos and the European Olympic Committees this Arrangement of Cooperation, to join forces on advancing causes we hold dear! Today, we celebrate a step further in our excellent cooperation to strengthen the impact of our main European flagships in sport, from the European Week of Sport to the HealthyLifeStyle4All initiative. And in this European Year of Youth, I also count on our joint efforts to encourage the involvement of young people in sport activities, at every corner of Europe!”