Celebrating Unity in Maribor at the 17th Summer European Youth Olympic Festival

In the Slovenian city of Maribor, young athletes aged 14 to 18 came together for the 17th edition of the Summer European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) from July 23rd to 29th, 2023.

About the festival

The EYOF has been held every two years since 1991, with the winter and summer festivals taking place in the same year. Around 3,600 athletes from 48 countries participated in Maribor, making it the largest multi-sport event for young athletes in Europe. Athletes competed in eleven sports at this year’s Summer EYOF, including athletics, road cycling, artistic gymnastics, judo, swimming, tennis, basketball, handball and volleyball, mountain biking and skateboarding.

For many of the athletes, this is their first major international event and their first Olympic counterpoint. It gives them their first taste of how an Olympic event is run and inspires them to dream of competing in the Olympic Games one day.

But the event is about more than just the pursuit of victory and the sporting competition. It brings together sport, culture and nations to celebrate the cultural diversity and unity of European countries through the coming together of young people. In the spirit of the Olympic Idea, the festival offers the opportunity to share values and ideals and to promote friendship, fairness and tolerance.

Bringing the Olympic Values to life

The European sports organisations have worked together to provide the athletes with an unforgettable experience and disseminate the Olympic values in Maribor.

The Organizing Committee of the EYOF Maribor 2023 together with the Slovenian Olympic Committee organised a diverse programme as part of the events. Together with the European Olympic Committee (EOC), the EOA supported the Organizing Committee in the areas of culture, education, and legacy activities and contributed to the promotion and visibility of the EYOF 2023 through the realisation of Country Posters, and the EYOF Photo contest, which will soon present its winning photos.

The European Young Olympic Ambassadors (EYOA) programme, under the auspices of the EOC Commission for Culture and Education, brought the Olympic values in the athletes’ village to life. Through a variety of activities prepared by the young ambassadors, they conveyed the values of friendship, excellence and respect to the athletes. As part of the EYOA programme, an Integrity Day was held where, among others, the International Testing Agency, the European Fair Play Movement and the Erasmus+ project Committee “Financial and Business Literacy in Sport for Athletes and Coaches” (read the latest news about FB-LS here), led by the Slovenian Olympic Academy, took part in a joint scavenger hunt to raise awareness of the various integrity issues in sport.

The European Youth Olympic Festival has definitely shown how much potential there is for cooperation between organisations to spread the Olympic values. The EYOF should be seen by all National Olympic Academies as a great opportunity to spread the Olympic Idea to their young athletes so that they continue to live the Olympic values on and off the field throughout their careers.

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