Olympic Day is a celebration of sport, health and togetherness. Every year on 23 June, it invites everyone around the world to get active and move together. It is the pleasure and mission of the National Olympic Academies to organise memorable events around this day.
One month ahead of the Olympic Day 2023, the EOA reports on the last year’s Olympic Day 2022 activities that happened all over the European continent. The slogan of Olympic Day 2022 was “Together for a better world”, and was accompanied on social media by the hashtags #MoveForPeace and #OlympicDay.
Celebrating the Olympic Spirit in Hungary
In 2022, the Hungarian Olympic Committee joined in the celebration with several activities that highlighted the spirit of the Olympic Games. One of the events was the display of the Olympic Flag at the 19th FINA World Championships at the Alfréd Hajós National Swimming Stadium as a symbol of solidarity and togetherness. The flag was proudly showcased by the Hungarian Olympic Committee and cheerful fans, and the event was broadcast live on national television.
In addition, the Hungarian Olympic Committee organised an exhibition of photographs and light paintings at Buda Castle. The photos featured some of the most prominent and successful Hungarian Olympic Champions, showcasing their achievements and promoting the Olympic values. The light paintings added an artistic touch to the display, creating a beautiful and captivating atmosphere.
The Hungarian Olympic Committee organised also a ceremony in honour of Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games to lay wreath at his statue. The ceremony was attended by several distinguished guests, including Zsolt Gyulay, President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee, Pál Schmitt, Member of the IOC, and Ádám Schmidt, State Secretary for Sport.
Finally, to promote the joy of sport, movement, and peace for all, several Hungarian Olympic Champions played basketball with children. The event was a fun and interactive way to encourage young people to engage in sports and the values of the Olympic Games.
From Beijing to Tokyo: Olympic Medalist Thomas Briels Shares His Experience with Belgian Students
With a special guest, the Belgian Olympian Thomas Briels, the BOIC visited Genappe and celebrated this year’s Olympic Day in the company of 50 students from the Nespa secondary school.
“The Olympic values are the basis of Olympism and the Olympic Movement. Together with Team Belgium, we want to promote these values even more in the future through all kinds of initiatives such as the Olympic Day. It is through this type of activity that we can inspire generations and contribute, as an Olympic Committee, to a better world through sport”, said Cédric Van Branteghem, CEO of the BOIC, and gave a short presentation on the functioning of the Committee.
Thomas Briels has four Olympic participations to his credit: Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. Together with the Red Lions, he won silver in Rio and gold in Tokyo – and he just happened to have his Olympic gold medal in his pocket!
After Thomas Briels’ inspiring words about what the Games and the Olympic values represent, a meet&greet was organised with the students and everyone posed for an Olympic souvenir photo. After lunch, the students had the opportunity to visit the King Baudouin stadium and then went to the Victor Boin stadium to get active. The day was an ideal way to learn about the Olympics and Olympic Values and to get inspired by a true Olympic ambassador.
One Country, 90 Locations, Thousands of Runners: The Czech Republic’s Olympic Run
In a way, Olympic Day was born in Czechia, as it was the Czech IOC member Josef Gruss, who came up with the idea of celebrating the anniversary of the IOC foundation. This was in 1947 and a couple of decades later brings thousands of people together to celebrate the Olympic movement.
For the Olympic Run in the Czech Republic, thousands of runners start simultaneously in 90 locations throughout the country. It is the biggest running event in the Czech Republic, and even the legendary runner Emil Zátopek participated in the event in the 1980s.
A portion of the proceeds from the entry fee is used to support disadvantaged children who do not have sufficient financial means to play sports. Each year, former and current Czech Olympians participate and meet the public directly through this event.
A Display of Athleticism and National Pride in Albania
From the impressive opening ceremony to the inspiring performances of the athletes, Albanian Olympic Day 2022 was celebrated from May 6 to June 23. In Albania, 6900 students participated to the events across twelve cities, guided by 31 coordinators and 146 teachers.
The Albanian Olympic Day showcased a wide range of sporting disciplines, with athletes displaying their talent, skills, and passion across various categories from the intense moments from athletics, swimming, weightlifting, gymnastics, and other events.
In addition to sporting events, the Olympic Day showcased the rich cultural heritage of Albania. Traditional dance performances, vibrant music, and ethnic costumes brought a unique blend of sports and culture to the event. The celebrations served also as an inspiration for the younger generation, encouraging them to pursue their dreams and participate in sports. The event not only promoted physical fitness but also instilled values such as teamwork, discipline, and sportsmanship among the youth.
Olympic Culture and Education Taking the Center Stage in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan saw a big celebration of the Olympic day that was merged with the 30th anniversary of the NOC of Azerbaijan. The event aimed at engaging people to become active members of the Olympic Movement while promoting the Olympic Movement and a healthy way of life.
Young athletes from gymnastics, karate, cycling and cheerleading demonstrated their sports disciplines, among them OCEP school children (see “Olympic Culture and Education Programme”), students of the art gymnasium, and medalists of the national and international competitions.
The festivities also included the Olympic Day Run in which the winners were awarded a medal, certificate and a present.
Azerbaijan NOC Vice-President Chingiz Huseynzada said, “Our athletes are our pride. Today, our prominent athletes and Olympic champions are taking part in this event. Their participation in such events will inspire young athletes to new victories.” He encouraged all Azerbaijanis to practice sport, love sports and pursue a healthy way of life, and said that the event would attract Azerbaijani youth to sports and increase their interest in sports.
Breaking Down Barriers: German Students Experience the Olympics trough Visually Impaired Athletes
On June 23rd, the German Olympic Academy (DOA) held its seventh annual Olympic Day event at the Olympia Museum (DSOM) in Cologne, in which around 500 students from North Rhine-Westphalia attended. The day featured a variety of activities, including different sports, a quiz on the Olympic Movement and doping prevention, the possibility to take photos in a photo booth with a real Olympic torch, and the opportunity to explore the museum.
During the museum visit, the students were given a 45-minute guided tour that included several interactive exhibits showcasing sports and athletics. Students had the opportunity to engage in a variety of physical activities, such as lifting weights, balancing on gymnastics equipment, and riding racing bikes. In addition, the students participated in a basketball, both with and without blindfolds and offered the chance to try a hand wheel without sight, to help them understand the experience of visually impaired athletes. In addition, several Team Germany athletes, including track and field athlete Maria Tietze, judoka Dominic Ressel, and hockey player Christopher Rühr spoke with the students answering questions and sharing their experiences as athlete.
Olympic Day events were also held in Munich and Kiel, with the DOA providing information about the Olympic idea in both cities. In Munich, the celebrations were part of the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Olympic Games. A few days later, on 3 July, the “Olympic Day Run”, organised by the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) and the Bavarian Athletics Association took place in Munich. More than 400 primary school students ran 1.5 kilometers around the Munich Olympic Stadium, accompanied by Olympic athletes Christina Hering, 400- and 800-meters runner, and Katharina Trost, 800-meters runner.
The events served as a reminder of the importance of the Olympic Games and the values they represent, such as teamwork, determination, and perseverance. The event was a great success and inspired both students and teachers: “Getting children and young people excited about balanced eating habits, exercise, and the Olympic idea is an important concern of ours,” said Rolf Lange, Head of Corporate Communications at the EDEKA ZENTRALE Stiftung & Co. KG., the key partner of the Olympic Day event in Cologne.
Paphos Coming Alive for Olympic Day in Cyprus
On June 15, 2022, the Cyprus NOC celebrated Olympic Day in the city centre of Paphos close to the Town Hall. The celebrations included a 1-km and a 5-km night run as well as cultural activities with traditional folklore dances and other performances. There were speeches given by the President of the Cyprus NOC and the mayor of the city of Paphos.
Additionally, on June 22, the Cyprus Youth Symphony Orchestra presented the concert “Ode to Olympism” dedicated to Olympic Day and the establishment of the International Olympic Committee.
Lithuania: From torchlight to obstacle courses
The celebration of the Olympic Day 2022 carried out by the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee, the Lithuanian Olympic Foundation and Kaunas City Municipality took place in Kaunas on June 18 which is the 2022 European Capital of Culture. People have been bustling in Kaunas Santaka Park since the early morning. A whole town of active leisure and sports was established here. The guests of the festival could try various sports, socialize with the Olympians, and join educational events. The Lithuanian Olympic Academy traditionally organised a knowledge test at this celebration. The children drew the lines on the worksheet and thus connected the depicted sports inventory with the relevant sport. Adults had to twist their heads too for answering 5 questions on Olympic topics and remembering famous athletes.
Six famous athletes from Kaunas were entrusted to carry the torch from the Town Hall Square to the stage in Santaka Park. After the lighting of the symbolic Olympic flame, the participants were greeted by Daina Gudzineviciute, Olympic Champion and President of the LNOC. “The Olympic Day is a beautiful tradition and a great celebration for the city. Since 1989, we have been touring the biggest cities of Lithuania to organise the Olympic Day, and now we are back in Kaunas. Then we had about 10 000 participants, and this year we have twice as many! The mission of the event is to introduce the public to a wide range of sports and give the opportunity to try them out, so it is great to see so many people actively involved.”
The event saw the Olympic Day Run, including a 500 meters race and a 5 and 10 kilometers running event – with 2000 runners taking place! Orienteering, 3×3 basketball, the OCR Lithuania obstacle course and many more activities rounded up the offer. Participants could try out various sports, talk to professional athletes, meet the Olympians, engage in games and tournaments, and join educational and Olympic education events. More than 15 000 prizes were given away as motivational gifts for active participation. Sports federations and clubs were involved in the event; not only summer but also winter Olympic and non-Olympic sports were presented to the participants, while the Lithuanian Paralympic Committee also organised individual activities.
A Day of Inspiration for Young Athletes in Austria
Austria’s 2022 Olympic Day celebrations kicked off in six Olympic Centres in the country, which opened their doors to children aged 8-18. Located in Vorarlberg, Tyrol, Carinthia, Upper Austria, Salzburg and Lower Austria, the centres offered a range of activities designed to give young people a glimpse into the world of top-level sport.
Regional politicians and sports officials welcomed students from schools across the region and introduced them to the Olympic movement and Olympic values before taking them on a tour of the centres where some of Austria’s best athletes train every day. The day included an Olympic quiz and the opportunity for pupils to try out different sports.
The day started with a tour of the centres’ laboratories, where students could try out sports medicine tests for themselves. The students also got to see the benefits of sports medicine training and put their knowledge into practice in different workstations by measuring the strength of the leg extensor muscles, testing the contact time with the floor during a 60-m sprint and finding out about the use of a spiro-ergometry. Moreover, they had the chance to meet and greet the athletes and take a look behind the scenes at the centres.
In addition to the main events at the Olympic centres, the Austrian Luge Federation visited a school in Tyrol, where pupils aged six and seven were introduced to the sport.
Kosovo Fostering a Love for Sports in the Community
The “Olympic Week” in Kosovo in 2022 was a remarkable event organised by the Kosovo NOC and Olympic Academy. It included several activities that promoted the Olympic Values and encouraged children and people with disabilities to engage in sports. The event took place earlier than usual to accommodate Kosovo’s team travel to the Mediterranean Games “Oran 2022.”
The week started on Monday 13th of June with a visit by the Kosovo Capital of Culture to various primary schools in the municipality of Pristina. The children were taught brochures on the history of the Olympic movement in Kosovo, the Olympic symbols, the basic values of the Olympic Movement and Kosovo’s participation in the Olympic Games. Pupils drew Olympic symbols which were distributed by the Kosovo Olympic Academy.
On tuesday, 14th of June, the media conference organised by Kosovo NOC officially opened the “Olympic Week”. The president of Kosovo NOC, Mr. Ismet Krasniqi, emphasised the importance of massifying sports in Kosovo and promoting the Olympic Values. The Kosovo Paralympic Committee organised activities such as Chess for the blind people, Table Tennis, and Bocce Ball. The President of the Paralympic Committee, Mrs. Njomza Emini, expressed gratitude to the Kosovo Olympic Committee and the Academy for their excellent organisation for athletes with disabilities.
Kosovo NOC also organised the Football Tournament at the “Ibrahim Gashi” stadium in Pristina the next Wednesday 15th of June. The deputy minister of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MKRS), Mrs. Daulina Osmani, the President of Kosovo Football Federation, Mr. Agim Ademi, and the Kosovo Basketball legend, Mr. Ferit Zekolli, were present at the stadium in addition to 200 representatives from the various institutions of Kosovo.
On Thursday the 16th, the International Olympic Day was celebrated with a hiking event organised by the Faculty of Physical Culture and Sports at AAB College. Students climbed the Sharr Mountains and the Jazhinca Lake with an altitude of 2180m above sea level. The route was 16 km long and took a total of 6 hours where students got to enjoy the scenery of dense mountains, nature and waterfalls. Afterwards, the sports fields were inaugurated at the Faculty of Physical Education and Sports of the University of Pristina. The President of the Olympic Committee, Mr. Ismet Krasniqi, and the Mayor of Pristina municipality, Mr. Shpend Ahmeti, were present at the event.
On the final day on Friday the 17th, the Kosovo NOC and the Kosovo School Sports Federation celebrated the Olympic Day in 21 municipalities. The main event was held at the “Fadil Vokrri” stadium in Pristina, where around 1000 children from primary schools practiced athletic disciplines. The ceremony was opened by the NOC president, Mr. Ismet Krasniqi, and the Minister for Culture, Youth and Sport, Mr. Hajrullah Çeku, who encouraged children to participate in sports. The activity was also attended by NOC leaders, Olympic Week Commission members, Sports Federations, parents, and teachers, and was enriched with the presence of the “Bajram Curri” Ensemble and the release of yellow and blue balloons in support of Ukraine.
Running the Virtual Race in Croatia
The Olympic Day in Croatia was celebrated partly live and partly virtually in Croatia.
The Olympic Day Run Croatia was organised virtually. 458 runners from all parts of Croatia, but also from Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland participated in the race. The great value of this race was that, through its virtual format, it was able to gather a wider population, from children and recreational runners (for whom this is often the first race in their life) to top runners, professionals and Olympians.
As part of the Olympic Day celebration, an art competition on the topic of Olympic rings was organised. A total of 90 school sports clubs from primary and secondary schools in the Republic of Croatia submitted 460 artworks.
Roller skating and tennis workshops and joint competitions in running, high jump, long jump, soccer and floor hockey were organised for kindergarten children in Zagreb. For elementary schools, the COA organised sports competitions and interactive workshops on Olympism.
Young Athletes Shine at Greece’s Olympic Day Celebration for Peace
Last year, Greece celebrated Olympic Day with a variety of events and activities across the country. The Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) and Hellenic Olympic Academy (HOA) organised events which allowed people to try new sports and learn about Olympic values trough the pillars “move, learn, discover – Together”.
The Olympic Day activities were centered around the theme of peace, with “Move for Peace” as its guiding principle, creating a platform for people to unite, gain knowledge, and participate in physical activity towards promoting peace. To celebrate the occasion, young artists expressed their visions through art and people were invited to share their own images of solidarity and peace through sport. Additionally, as a tribute to the creativity of the new generation, schools were invited to take part in a national competition where students could write lyrics for the official HOA anthem, which embodies the Olympic values and ideals.
Several sports events took place across the country, including Thessaloniki Olympic Day run, Hellas Gym Festival, Thessaloniki beach volley Grand Slam, Acropolis Cup boxing competition, Fencing National Juniors Championship, and Olympic Day run in Ancient Olympia. Summer camps and sport activities were also organised by the YMCA, Swimming Club Poseidonas Ilission, and Sport sector of Municipality of Athens, among others.
Moreover, the celebration of the Olympic Day took place at the Athens Olympic Museum, Ukrainian Refugees camp in Elefsina and Rafina, Taekwondo Festival Competition “Ilis & Paris,” and Cheerleading National Championship. The Ministry of Defense celebrated the Olympic Day at Panathenaic Stadium by sport activities with young kids.
Ukraine: Celebrating Olympic Day with Unity, Friendship, and Support Despite Ongoing Conflict
Despite the ongoing invasion of Russia, the Olympic Day celebrations in Ukraine held on June 23, 2022, were a success. The principles of unity, friendship, and support were put into practice throughout the country, with the participation of eminent Olympians like Vadim Gutzeit, Natalya Dobrynskaya, Katerina Dubrovina, and Elena Petrova. The events included Olympic quizzes, brain-rings, Olympic challenges, physical exercises, and competitions conducted by all 26 regional branches of the Olympic Academy of Ukraine.
During this Olympic Day, special attention was paid to involving children with hearing problems and impairments in the Olympic values. Not only local youth took part in the Olympic Day events, but also young people temporarily resettled abroad, who fled from the war-torn regions. Participation in the events united the youth around the Olympic values – friendship, excellence, and respect for the sake of peace.
The celebration also honoured the birthday of Aleksey Boutovsky, an associate of Pierre de Coubertin and one of the founders of the International Olympic Committee, with Boutovsky Readings and memorial tournaments in various sports.