The European Games began, the multi-sport event that tries to establish itself in the old continent

While America and Asia have had their competition since 1951, the one that began yesterday in Krakow is just the third edition of the European Games. There will be 29 disciplines spread over 12 Polish cities until July 2.

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Krakow 2023 is the third edition of these Games.
Krakow 2023 is the third edition of these Games.

Perhaps it was the existence of other traditional events such as the Commonwealth Games or the Mediterranean Games, or perhaps it was simply the lack of political will of the European sports leadership. The truth is that while the Pan American Games and the Asian Games have been held since 1951 in the year before the Olympic Games, it was only in 2012 that Europe hatched the idea of organizing its own multi-sport competition. The first edition of the European Games was held in Baku (Azerbaijan) in 2015 and in 2019 the city in charge of organizing them was Minsk (Belarus).

Last night the opening ceremony took place with a majestic display of art and athletics at the Henryk Reyman Municipal Stadium in Krakow. The show brought together representatives from 48 nations from all over Europe, making it an unprecedented milestone in the history of Polish sport.

Krakow was chosen to host the third European Games in 2019 and since then the organizers have faced challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The war meant that Russia and Belarus, first and second in the medal table in Minsk 2019, were excluded from this year’s edition. Ukraine is among the 48 nations that will compete with a team of 265 athletes.

The Opening Ceremony was held in the Henryk Reyman Stadium.
The Opening Ceremony was held in the Henryk Reyman Stadium.

The competition began yesterday Wednesday with athletics events at the Silesian Stadium in the city of Chorzów. There was also activity in 3x3 basketball, BMX cycling, canoeing and artistic swimming. At the same time, paddle tennis and beach handball began, two of the eight non-Olympic sports on the Krakow 2023 programme.

The great absence of traditional sports is gymnastics: there will be neither artistic, nor rhythmic nor trampoline. In the midst of controversy, the official version given by the European Gymnastics Union was that “they could not find a suitable stadium to host the competition.”

In addition to 21 Olympic and eight non-Olympic disciplines, there will be seven side events at Krakow 2023: chess, trail running, sumo, amputee soccer, traditional martial arts, motor racing and teqball.

One of the great attractions of these European Games are the Olympic places that will be awarded in different sports. In some cases they are direct and even nominal tickets, while in other cases valuable points are distributed for the Olympic rankings.

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