The European Games will be launched in Minsk on June 21. The competitions will take place at different sports venues throughout the city. Meanwhile, the opening ceremony will take place at the Dynamo Stadium.
The ceremony will be broadcast to more than a hundred countries as well as in Europe.
More than 500 artists will be involved, including world-renowned stars such as the opera soprano Anna Netrebko. The Dynamo Stadium has been completely renovated for this event.
Sergy Kalinnikov, General Producer, Opening Ceremony said, "As far as I know, this is the oldest stadium in Minsk. But after the renovation, it has become the most modern stadium in the country. It's very convenient to work here, to prepare for the opening ceremony“.
“The ceremony will be at the level of the Olympic Games,” he added.
THE OLYMPIC TORCH
An important part of the event will be a reference to the 1980 Olympic Games in Russia. The same torch that was installed at the Dynamo almost forty years ago will be re-lit again.
There are 15 kinds of sports in the programme. In total, more than 4,000 athletes will participate.
Belarusian wrestler Vasilisa Marzaliuk won gold at the 2015 European games and hopes to repeat the success under the guidance of her experienced coach.
Oleg Raikhlin, Head Coach, Belarus Women’s Wrestling Team said, "This is the first time that our country hosts such a major sporting event. The atmosphere is good, and we are ready for the competition. I think the girls will do everything to win".
Vasilisa will obviously compete with women during the competitions but during training, she has to wrestle with men. It's not easy to find a female sparring-partner at her level."
Vasilisa Marzaliuk, European Games Gold Medalist, "I hope that the European Games will contribute to the development of sports infrastructure for wrestling and attract youngsters.”
“Many people have an idea that this is a terrible kind of sport, where we beat and drag each other by the hair; a man's kind of sport. Well, it's not true. Of course, wrestling is very difficult, so I am proud to do it.
“Secondly, it's a really beautiful sport, because it's universal in terms of sports skills"
INTERNATIONAL SPORTS FANS
Fifty countries will take part in the European games. This means that a lot of international fans will come here to Minsk.
Local authorities have started a visa-free regime for those people travelling to Minsk especially for the 10-day event.
Stéphane Blusson arrived in Belarus from France 20 years ago and stayed! He set up his own company, Mecasoft Int. He thinks fans will be surprised when they discover Belarus.
"Since arriving in 1998, it's changed a lot. There's always an evolution, there are always some positive things happening. And the better it goes, the better it gets. And that's what's great about it. It will be a great opportunity for fans to come here, to discover Minsk, to discover the country, a part of its culture. It'll allow people to have a different perspective on Belarus and to form their own opinion, and that's important,” Blusson said.
The European Games is from Friday 21 June – Sunday 30 June 2019.