The Slovenia Times

Flame for Youth Olympic Festival arrives in Maribor


With less than two months to go until the opening of the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Maribor, the Flame of Peace has arrived in Slovenia's second city marking the symbolic start of the biggest sporting event the city has ever seen.

The flame was lit in a ceremony in Rome earlier this week, with the president of the European Olympic Committees, Spiros Capralos, handing symbolic olive branches to Maribor Mayor Saša Arsenovič and Franjo Bobinac, the president of the Slovenian Olympic Committee.

In the coming weeks the flame will travel to 27 towns and 18 elementary schools around the country. The organisers hope it will spread the message of peace, hope and of the coming together of people of different nationalities, cultures, languages and traditions.

"This is the symbolic start of EYOF," Arsenovič said as the torch arrived in Maribor on 2 June. "The flame spreads the Olympic spirit and we hope that at a time when there's war in Europe, it will help make friendships and prevent military conflicts."

The flame arrived in Maribor two weeks after the government provided an additional EUR 2.8 million to co-finance the upgrade of a track-and-field stadium, a key piece of infrastructure for the event.

Arsenovič noted that EYOF was the largest sporting event for those between the ages of 14 and 18, and that it had launched many successful careers. "Maribor will be hosting 48 national teams ... and maybe some of the athletes will also be competing at the Paris Olympics next year."

Ski star Ilka Štuhec, a native of Maribor, was one of the successful athletes to compete at EYOF. "I hope that the upcoming EYOF in Maribor will launch many successful careers," she said.

The event will take place between 23 and 29 July, featuring more than 3,600 athletes in eleven sports. For the first time, EYOF will feature competitions in skateboarding, mountain biking and 3x3 basketball.

The young athletes will also compete in gymnastics, athletics, road cycling, handball, judo, swimming, tennis and volleyball.


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