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Stunning light and pyrotechnic shows, a magnificent musical recital performed by the biggest stars, participation of notable athletes, and moving patriotic elements – the Opening Ceremony of the III European Games impressed not only the thousands of spectators at Krakow’s Henryk Reyman Stadium, but also the whole world gathered in front of TV’s.

If this year’s European Games are as successful as the spectacular opening event at the Henryk Reyman Municipal Stadium in Kraków, we can be sure of success. An Opening Ceremony, held on June 21, has been put together at the world-class level. The stadium was filled with both sports and artistic excellence.

The ceremony began with a show referring to the most important legends and history of Poland, and then the emotions were further heightened by recitals featuring the biggest music stars. On stage that night, among others, we saw: Zakopower, Golec uOrkietra, Tribbs, Daria ze Śląska, Bednarek, Roxy Węgiel, the Ukrainian band Kalush, and the Lviv National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra.

On this occasion, we told Europe and the world about what we are most proud of. We recalled the profiles of the most famous and distinguished Poles, such as Wisława Szymborska, Frederic Chopin and John Paul II, as well as athletes who achieved the greatest successes on the international stage: Robert Lewandowski, Irena Szewińska, Iga Świątek, Adam Małysz or Robert Korzeniowski.

Then the pitch was filled with all the nationalities taking part in this year’s games – during the traditional march of athletes, in costumes with their countries’ emblems.  The march of the Ukrainians gained amazing applause of more than 20,000 fans gathered at the stadium, while the “Song of Peace” was performed in the background – by the Polish opera singer Andrzej Lampert, who was accompanied by the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Lviv. The peaceful message was present throughout the ceremony – the sports spirit was beyond all divisions, uniting everyone, and spreading the most important Olympic values: unity, peace and equality.

In the final part of the show, honored guests appeared on stage, without whom the organisation of the largest multidisciplinary event in Europe would not be possible: President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda, Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin, Marshal of the Malopolska Region Witold Kozlowski, Mayor of Krakow Jacek Majchrowski, and President of the European Olympic Committees, Spyros Capralos.

The first to speak was Marshal of the Malopolska Region Witold Kozlowski. “It is a great honor to have you here, we warmly welcome you in Malopolska – a friendly, hospitable, and safe place. For the people of our region, friendship, respect, tolerance, brotherhood, and solidarity are the most important values, and we say no to war – we must be united. We want every fan to experience a beautiful sports celebration, which will bring a lot of joy and wonderful moments that we will experience together. May the best win,” he said.

President of Krakow Jacek Majchrowski stressed the importance of making the fight between athletes a fair play competition. “There are no teams from Belarus and Russia among us. The Games will witness a beautiful fight for medals, a fair fight,” he said. 

Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin noted how important the event is. “The organisational success of the European Games will be the success of our entire country,” he stressed.

“We have been waiting for this moment for four years. You all have the opportunity to experience something absolutely special, something that goes beyond sports, in peaceful conditions. Thank you, Poland, for making this possible. I especially welcome the athletes from Ukraine, we are extremely happy to see you here today,” said the President of the European Olympic Committees, Spyros Capralos.

In a similar vein spoke the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, who stressed that this edition of the Games is special, as it is the first time it is being held on the territory of the European Union. He noted that the biggest sports event in the world, which is already making history, draws its values from those originating in ancient Greece. “In this context, I would like to warmly welcome the athletes from Ukraine. This is a sign that the Olympic ideals are stronger than evil and violence, thank you for being here,” he said. “Let the message coming from the Polish ground, the heart of Europe, reach everyone today – let this be a celebration not only of sports, but above all, of peace and European unity, let it warm our hearts and give us the courage to win. The III European Games are now officially open,” the president announced.

The culminating moment of the event was the ceremonial lighting of the torch – this special element of the event symbolizes the official start of this greatest sports celebration. The torch was carried onto the stage by Zygmunt Smalcerz, Marian Woronin, Dawid Tomala, Rober Korzeniowski and Maja Włoszczowska, and the spectacular lighting from the Flame of Peace, which began its journey to Krakow in April in Rome, was performed by Anita Włodarczyk, Janusz Pyciak Peciak and Marcin Oleksy.

The biggest sports event in the history of our Poland is now beginning, and 12 days of unforgettable moments are in front of us. More than 7,000 athletes will take part in 29 sports competitions, in 13 cities of southern Poland. Tickets for selected disciplines are still available here.