The European Youth Olympic Festival, also known under its abbreviation EYOF, is a part of the European Olympic Committee, held under the patronage of the IOC. It is a top multi-sport event aimed at young athletes aged 14 to 18. There is a winter and a summer edition, which take place in two-year cycles. Its 16th summer edition is hosted by Banská Bystrica, with the venues of the competitions also in Zvolen, Detva, Slovenská Ľupča and Badín.
Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee president Anton Siekel wanted to make first clear how important the promotion of such an event is for Slovakia. He is content with the first reactions he received from his foreign colleagues arriving in Slovakia and he believes that the entire Olympic festival will be held at a very high organisational standard.
Teams of 48 participating countries have arrived in Banská Bystrica, including one athlete from a refugee team. There are altogether 2,252 athletes - 1,125 boys and 1,127 girls. The smallest team came from Monaco, only two athletes, while Slovakia has sent the largest team with 149 athletes.
Athletes compete in ten sports – track and field athletics, badminton, basketball, road cycling, judo, handball, swimming, sports gymnastics, tennis and volleyball.
“I am looking forward to cheering on our athletes,” says former Olympic shooter and IOC member Danka Barteková, one of the festival’s ambassadors. According to her, people will have a unique opportunity to witness the possible future stars of European sports, however, they have to understand that the results in the 14-18 age category might not be as shiny as when they see professionals competing. Nonetheless, she believes the quality of the competitions will be great.
If interested in visiting any of the events, entrance to the sports venues in Banská Bystrica and surroundings is free of charge for spectators. This is also one of the moves that the organisers hope will bring more young people to sports.