The Flame of Peace for the 16th Summer European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) Banská Bystrica 2022 came to life at Ara Pacis Augustae in Rome on Monday. A symbol of peace, the flame will act as a beacon for young athletes amidst a time of political hostility across Europe.
Officials from the European Olympic Committees (EOC), EYOF Banská Bystrica 2022 Organizing Committee, National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of Slovakia and Italy, and the Municipality of Rome gathered for a small ceremony celebrating the lighting of the flame.
EOC President Spyros Capralos was quick to note the importance of holding such a ceremony at the Ara Pacis Augustae, a structure built during Roman times to celebrate peace.
“The historic Ara Pacis truly is the perfect setting for today’s ceremony, and it is a reflection of the values we seek to promote through the EYOF,” stated Capralos. “Each time we host this magical event, the Flame of Peace is lit as a beacon of hope and optimism for people all over Europe.”
His attention turned to Ukraine, a country ravaged by war ever since Russia initiated an invasion of the nation shortly after the close of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
“This time the message has taken on even greater importance, with the war in Ukraine showing no sign of coming to an end,” said Capralos. “The crisis remains at the forefront of all our minds and we pray every day that peace imminently returns.”
He stated his belief that sport could act as an example for society, adding, “our actions are ultimately what will define us, and I am proud of the way the European Olympic family, especially Slovakia, has stood firmly in solidarity with Ukraine.”
Capralos also displayed his enthusiasm about upcoming competition to those in attendance, stating, “after the success of the Vuokatti Winter EYOF earlier this year, I am sure you all share my excitement for what’s in store in Banská Bystrica this July.”
The lighting of the Flame of Peace signaled the start of the final countdown to the 2022 Summer EYOF in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia. The flame will leave Rome for Slovakia, where it will tour the country before playing a major role in the opening ceremony on July 24.
Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee President Anton Siekel commented, “The Shining Ceremony is a significant milestone on the exceptional path of preparations for EYOF Banská Bystrica 2022. It reminds us that we are approaching the final stage before the start of the most important multi-sporting event in Slovakia.”
“After the ceremony the fire sets out on a pilgrimage through Slovak towns and villages to commemorate not only the approaching EYOF in Banská Bystrica 2022, but also the Olympic values and ideas of peace and brotherhood.”
The flame’s first engagement in Slovakia will be an appearance at Olympic Day festivities in Banská Bystrica. The host city’s mayor was in Rome to receive the flame, along with the Dea Pax Golden Olive Tree sculpture, another symbol of peace and friendship, from EOC President Spyros Capralos.
“I am very pleased that the EYOF will take place in Banská Bystrica,” stated Ján Nosko, Mayor of Banská Bystrica. “It is an honor for us and, as the European City of Sport 2017, we will take on a difficult task that is not only a challenge but also a big commitment.”
He added, “we are only 55 days away from the biggest multisport event in Europe and I believe that we will be able to deliver a great event, from which everyone will have an unforgettable experience, enjoy a unique atmosphere and meet new friends.”
The 2022 Summer EYOF is set to open on July 24. Competition will take place across nine sports, involving youth athletes from all over Europe. The 2022 Summer EYOF will draw to a close on July 30.