Second day of EOC seminar brings productive discussions on EYOF, refugees
13 May 2023
The second day of the 43rd EOC Seminar, being held in Paris, saw participants continue their fruitful discussions of the key issues facing the Olympic Movement in Europe. The proceedings began with remarks from EOC Executive Committee member and EOC Coordination Commission Chair Hasan Arat. Arat reminded participants of the importance of a collaborative approach to preparations for the forthcoming European Games Kraków-Małopolska 2023.
Noting that the success of the Games would depend largely on the NOCs whose athletes will be participating, Arat said: “We all have a responsibility to help, not just for our athletes but for the Games as a whole. To use the famous phrase of President Kennedy, we should think not of what the European Games can do for us, but of what we can do for the European Games.”
Two sessions followed, providing valuable insights into the future of the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF), and the issues arising from refugee flows into and across Europe. Chair of the EYOF Commission Liney Haldorsdottir and EOC Sports Director Peter Brull led the EYOF session, reminding colleagues that most NOCs had said they were ‘very satisfied’ with the EYOF in the survey that informed the creation of the EOC Strategic Agenda 2030. Nevertheless, reflecting a shared wish to constantly improve, the EOC is considering further developments. Nataša Ritonija, Director of the Organising Committee for the 2023 Summer EYOF in Maribor, gave participants an update on preparations. A number of innovations are being trialed. The many benefits of hosting EYOF events were also considered.
For some years, refugee and migrant flows have been the subject of much debate in Europe. There has been consensus, however, on the importance of sport as a tool for social cohesion. Many European NOCs and their associated sporting communities have demonstrated warm hospitality towards refugee athletes. As a result, the great majority of members of the Refugee Olympic Team at Tokyo 2020 was composed of athletes hosted by European NOCs. Consolidating this pioneering role, the EOC is also introducing a five-member EOC Refugee Team at the forthcoming European Games. A productive discussion saw NOCs sharing their experiences.
Before the day drew to a close, Montenegro was confirmed as the next host of the EOC Seminar in October in 2024. EOC President Spyros Capralos concluded the seminar with sincere thanks to all the participants and especially to the CNOSF as hosts. Capralos also extended the EOC’s best wishes to the NOCs, as they prepare their teams to compete at the European Games, now fewer than six weeks away.