The Slovenia Times

Young athletes from all over Europe compete in Maribor


More than 2,400 young athletes from 48 countries have converged on Maribor, Slovenia's second largest city, for the summer edition European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF). Running between 23 and 29 July, the festival will see a rich accompanying programme. Entry to most venues will be free.

The participants will compete in 11 sports. New this year are skating, mountain biking and 3x3 basketball. Other sports are gymnastics, athletics, road cycling, handball, judo, swimming, tennis and volleyball.

The competitions will be held in different venues across Maribor, including Maribor Airport, where the road cycling time trials will take place.

The accompanying programme will include concerts, tours around Maribor, sports presentations and competitions.

"Excellent athletes are coming to Maribor and many people with them," the organisers said, adding that all accommodation capacities in the city are fully booked. Accommodation for athletes is organised in hotels but also in student dorms.

Slovenian athletes have been taking part in the EYOF competitions since the first one was held in Brussels in 1991. This year the country is represented by a 196-strong team.

Some 800 volunteers will help make sure everything is running smoothly, including nearly 200 from abroad.

The cost of the event is estimated at €11 million, with the state chipping in €2.8 million. The rest will be covered by the municipality, the Olympic Committee, Erasmus calls, entry fees and sponsorships.

"The goal is not just sports but also linking up. What will be left (after the festival) is a lot of good energy and new sports infrastructure," said Maribor Mayor Saša Arsenovič.

The local tourist board estimates the participants and visitors will spend some 30,000 nights in Maribor, marking the peak of the tourism season.

EYOF is one of the largest multi-sport events in Europe and the largest event for athletes between the ages of 14 and 18.

The Alpine town of Bled hosted the winter edition of the festival in 2003, but this is the first time the country hosts the summer edition.


More from Events