Almost 4000 young competitors met in Tbilisi the capital of Georgia to compete in the European Youth Olympic Festival. Participants come from 50 countries and all of them are millennials born from 1998 to 2000. The European Youth Olympic Festival is fully acknowledged by the International Olympic Committee. The difference between these games and the main Olympic event is that the youth festival has only nine events while the main Olympic games have many more events.
The events in these games include volleyball, basketball, gymnastics, tennis, cycling judo, athletics, swimming and handball. Preparations for the games have taken Georgia over two years. Among the facilities that were put in place include a sports complex known as New Georgia. Construction of the venue is a clear indication of the total support that the government of Georgia has accorded the event. This modern facility is expected to continue offering services to the people of Georgia long after the games have come to an end.
Former world champion in gymnastics, Rusudan Sikharulidze who is from Georgia is currently training the Georgian gymnastics team. She recalled the time when she was, herself active. There were no good facilities in the country where they could train. It was necessary for them to go to other countries so as to train effectively. This is no longer going to be the case for young Georgian gymnasts after the construction of New Tbilisi. It has foam pits, which are critical for proper gymnastic training. There are also other facilities in the complex such as an Olympic sized pool, a modern high quality track and an auditorium for indoor games.
Over and above the stadium, the government has also constructed an Olympic Village to host the athletes. This village comprises of nine blocks of apartments which have the capacity to host a large number of the visiting athletes. There are also restaurants in the village as well as a hotel. This facility was built for the games. Once the games are over, most of the apartments will become homes for internally displaced people while others will be sold. The IDPs to be settled in this village are from Abkhazia and others are from South Ossetia.
To the nation and people of Georgia, hosting the games is a proud opportunity where they are able to showcase Georgia is one of the great countries in the world seeing that it is one of the oldest countries in the world. Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, said that the opportunity to host this great European event is an affirmation that Tbilisi was indeed a European city and Georgia a European country. The presence and participation of the Prime Minister was also an indication of how heavily the government is invested in the games.
Mr. Aleksi Akhvlediani, chairman of the games intimated that this was the thirteenth edition of the games that are governed under the Olympic charter. The young participants also had a lot to say about the games and their individual ambitions. Dani Georgiou a sixteen-year-old Cypriot sees that games as an opportunity to prepare for the Olympics. This perspective is shared by many of the youth participating in the games.