Sarajevo seems to be ready to welcome thousands of athletes, members of delegations, guests and foreign tourists who will come to the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF), which will be held from 9 to 16 February this year. EYOF is reminiscent of the values and ideals contained in the Olympic Charter, and educates and motivates young people to engage in sports and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
EYOF, which is held every two years on the principle of Olympics, is the biggest sports festival for young athletes aged between 14 and 18. As such, it is undoubtedly the most important sports event that will be held in our country since the year 1984, when Sarajevo hosted the 14th Winter Olympic Games.
This fact is especially important because, for decades, generations have grown up in Sarajevo that, unfortunately, did not have the opportunity, first because of the war, and then in a period of painful transition, to experience Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina in its most beautiful light. Those older people who had the opportunity to experience the ZOI ’84, until then the best organized Olympic Games, were rightly so proud to keep those memories and excitement, and after so many years, to recount events from this unforgettable image of their city.
On the one hand, the opportunity for young people from BiH to be part of the story of EYOF, as participants, viewers, organizers, and from the other, the fact that we are still able to organize one such event, it seems as one big step for this country and these people.
Certainly, the arrival of close to 750 members of delegations from 46 European countries, thousands of athletes and volunteers from all over the country, and more than 150 accredited journalists’ crews is the first step towards achieving the dream of many BH citizens and Sarajevans. Bosnia and Herzegovina will again host the Olympics, which would certainly be a clear sign that wounds from the past have been overgrown and that we are ready to be part of the world as a positive example for others, as a country in which diversity is viewed as a blessing, and not as a punishment!
It is also important that the hosts of EYOF 2019 Sarajevo and East Sarajevo, which is practically one of the first great examples of cooperation, is the interest of all citizens of this country, and especially young people. Namely, the very idea of the European Youth Olympic Festival was created with the desire to bring young athletes closer to the idea of Olympism, the Olympic spirit and Olympic values and ideals.
Let’s create together
By enabling young talented athletes to compete and prepare for participation in high-level competitions, EYOF also teaches young people the universal values and the spirit of cosmopolitism. One of the members of the Olympic Committee and significant faces of EYOF, the well-known Belgian table tennis player Jean-Michel Saive summed up the idea of this event: “EYOF is a perfect opportunity to teach young athletes from all over Europe about the importance of an ideal like fair competition, respect, tolerance and friendship” . Therefore, in our country EYOF is certainly much more than a great sporting event.
In a country where there’s so much talking, and so little work is done when it comes to young people, EYOF is the first event that puts the idea of the importance of young people in our country to the winning podium.
Therefore, by burning an Olympic flame at the Olympic stadium Asim Ferhatović-Hase, citizens of BiH can rightfully feel that like a hope, or at least a message that things can be different from those we are, unfortunately, used to over the last three decades. “Let’s Create Together” and what is the motto of EYOF, it is crystal clear to us, but also to the whole world.