The organisation of the 15th Summer European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Baku, Azerbaijan received high marks today from representatives of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) as the weeklong multi-sports event for the continent’s best young athletes aged 14 to 18 came to a close.
EOC Vice President Niels Nygaard singled out the world-class facilities, friendly and helpful volunteers and the Olympic Culture and Education Programme as the three standouts of this edition of the EYOF.
"Congratulations and a very big thank-you to the local organisers for a European Youth Olympic Festival that has been conducted in such a good manner," he said. "All sports were held at a very high quality, with very good results. We could see that our young European athletes are doing very well and had a chance to perform at a high level here in Baku."
Some 2,700 athletes representing 48 European countries competed in ten sports at Baku 2019, supported by 1,200 team officials and 3,500 volunteers. Russia topped the medals table, followed by Great Britain and Turkey. Hosts Azerbaijan finished an impressive fourth with 10 gold, 7 silver, and 6 bronze medals, a result that pleased Azerbaijan Minister of Youth and Sport Azad Rahimov.
"I would like to congratulate Russia and I wish success to them and all the winners," Rahimov said. "For Azerbaijan to finish in fourth place among 48 countries is quite promising and our success is more than we expected, especially when compared to previous EYOFs."
In total, athletes from 38 countries won at least one medal at Baku 2019. As part of the EOC’s efforts to support gender equality in sport, 48 per cent of the athletes were girls.
The Closing Ceremony, held at a sold-out Baku Crystal Hall, centred on the athletes, who were kept entertained by six leading local musicians and a DJ that kept the party going until the very end.
During the Ceremony, the EOC flag was handed over to Ján Nosko, Mayor of Banská Bystrica, the Slovak city that will host the next edition of the Summer EYOF in 2021.
"The future organisers of Banská Bystrica have very large shoes to fill following Baku 2019 but I am sure they will receive great support going forward," said EOC Coordination Commission Chair for Baku 2019 Djordje Višacki. "I want to thank our hosts for their great energy and positive attitude. The entire team worked diligently with us from last year to deliver a successful event."
For the first time, the competition and ceremonies were livestreamed on a new EOC Channel, which proved highly popular, registering more than 50,000 viewers early in the week from 140 countries.
Another EYOF first was the Olympic Culture and Education Programme, which was created to promote culture, sport and Olympic values among the young generations of Europe.
The OCEP was a joint project initiated by the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan, the EYOF Baku 2019 Organising Committee, and the Azerbaijan Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Youth and Sports that was fully funded and supported by the International Olympic Committee and the EOC through Olympic Solidarity.
As part of the programme, 48 schools in Baku were twinned with counterparts in countries across Europe and an Olympic Culture and Sport Pavilion was set up inside the Athletes’ Village.
"The Culture Programme that you made with the schools has been a very successful experience," said EOC Vice President Nygaard. "It was really nice to see how schools from Baku were twinned with schools in all the other participating European countries, which made it a true youth festival."
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