24 July 2019

The European Youth Olympic Festival Baku 2019 is only at its halfway mark, yet preparations area already well under way for the next edition of the Summer EYOF in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia.

A team of 17 delegates from the Banská Bystrica organising committee is currently in Baku to get to grips with all the organisational areas and learn first-hand from their Azerbaijan counterparts. Also in town this week are Slovak Vice Prime Minister Richard Raši and Banská Bystrica Mayor Ján Nosko, who will receive the EYOF flag at the Closing Ceremony on Saturday.

"We will be here for four days in total," said EYOF 2021 Organising Committee CEO Peter Korcok of his team of observers. "We decided to come at the beginning of the event to witness the organisational set up and because there is traditionally more pressure on the organisers at the start. They are a very experienced organising committee [having hosted the European Games in 2015] but it is more special now because their team is made up entirely of local people and they are relying totally on local resources, which is similar to our team."

Banska Bystrica EYOF consultant Katerina Nyčová added that the team was very grateful to the Baku organising committee for allowing them full access during their stay.

"We know that sport is probably the easiest part of hosting an event like this, it’s the organisation that is the hardest part," she said. "And we have had the opportunity here to get behind the scenes and spend time in the Athletes’ Village and to understand all of the operations. Tomorrow there will be a transfer of knowledge meeting with the organisers followed by a Q&A session that we think will be particularly valuable to us."

Banská Bystrica is a small city with only 78,000 inhabitants, but they are well known for being passionate about and highly skilled at sports – so much so that the town is often referred to as the City of Olympic Champions. In 2017 the city was designated a European City of Sport.

For Nycova, it is the people of the sports-mad city that will provide the magic touch at the 2021 edition.

"We are sure that the Slovak mentality and hospitality will be the added value and will provide a very good atmosphere," she said. "It will be a really friendly environment and the athletes will enjoy it. There will be a lot of side events going on in the city centre and also for the athletes we plan to make a fan zone so that they can enjoy the festival apart from sport."

The first EOC inspection visit of the city took place earlier this month, and the initial feedback has been very positive.

Peter Brüll, the Sports Director of the EOC, said he was particularly impressed with the organiser’s plan to host six or seven sports (athletics, judo, swimming, tennis, triathlon, basketball and possibly one more sport) together in a single cluster.

"I would rate our visit to Banská Bystrica very positively," he said. "The summer EYOF 2021 project is very compact, with short distances between the venues and up to seven sports close together. In addition, they are also close to the proposed Athletes’ Village, which will turn into student residences for Matej Bel University after the event is over."

This will be the second time Slovakia has hosted an EYOF, having previously organised the Poprad Tatry Winter EYOF in 1999. Banská Bystrica 2021 will be the 16th edition of the Summer EYOF and it will also mark a significant milestone for the EYOF, according to Secretary General of the Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee Jozef Liba.

"2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the European Olympic Festival," Liba said. "So we plan to celebrate with a big ‘European party’ by welcoming all of our friends from the continent to our proud and sport-passionate country to enjoy what I am confident will be a successful event, and one that lives long in the memory of the young athletes who begin their Olympic journey."

The Banská Bystrica EYOF is scheduled to take place from 24 July to 1 August 2021. For more information, check out the Banská Bystrica 2021 website.

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