More than 5000 athletes, twice as many volunteers, journalists and visitors from all over Europe came to the city below the Medvednica mountain to open the European University Games today. The fantastic event which will be held from today until 25th of July in Zagreb and Rijeka will send a message of love, discipline, solidarity, healthy habits and friendship to the entire world. So if you didn’t realise by now, it is clear that the European University Games start today, with a grand opening at 9 pm at the sports center Mladost near the Student Center Stjepan Radic. On this spectacular day, thousands of athletes and their teams will rise their flags, carry the torch and celebrate a festival of sports in front of the entire Europe.
The preparations for the EUG 2016 started in summer 2013 when two Croatian cities were selected to host the games instead of Portuguese city Coimbra. The host for the European Universities Games 2016 was decided in Ljubljana by the EUSA Executive Committee. In the last three years, the Croatian team led by Gordan Kozulj, the Chairman of the Bidding Committee started with preparation. Year by year, the EUG team was getting bigger and bigger. They worked hard to find money, sponsors, partners and they made it. While the EUG team was growing and more volunteers from the entire Europe were joining in, Zagreb started to change for the Games. The infrastructure of two biggest dorms – Cvjetno and Sava – was renovated, the city got more city murals, more exhibitions, museums, more guests… Before it even started, the EUG gave a special touch and sport spirit to the town of Zagreb, and it will stay that way until the 25th of July. So in the next two weeks, you will see Hrki, the mascot of the games everywhere, just like back in 1987 when Zagreb hosted the Universiade, the basis of the EUG of today.
History and Future in the same team!
The 1987 Summer Universiade, also known as the XIV Summer Universiade, involved participants from 111 countries and over 6,000 individual sports persons and members of groups. The host of Summer Universiade was Zagi, the mascot created by Nedjeljko Dragić, who represented a resident of Zagreb’s parks, someone who is always on the move and reaching for the seemingly impossible. The sweet blue squirrel with a small black hat, characteristic of the folk costumes was a symbol of the dynamism of athletic endeavour.
Zagi opened the Universiade on July 8th, followed by very famous Croatian sports figures such as basketball player Dražen Petrović. He invited athletes from the entire world to our city and opened the ten days of competition in following disciplines: Athletics, Basketball, Canoeing Diving, Fencing, Football, Gymnastics, Rowing, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball and Water Polo. The athletes from 111 countries brought medals and great memories to their homelands, but we kept it close to our hearts and written in our heritage.
That is why these new games are imperative to every living Croat. 29 years later we are living the same happy scenario, only this time, we will watch fewer teams (only from Europe) but more disciplines. The European University Games are hosting these competitions: Badminton, Basketball, Basketball 3×3, Beach volleyball Chess, Climbing, Football, Futsal, Golf, Handball, Judo, Karate, Rowing, Rugby Sevens, Swimming, Table Tennis, Volleyball, Water Polo, Tennis, Taekwondo.
Some of them such as basketball, chess and karate started yesterday, led by the motto of the games that says Heart believes; mind achieves, and they will continue until the 25th of July when the games will leave our town. The next Games will be held in 2018 in Portugal.
Tickets, Cheering, Useful Info
Tickets for the sports events are free so make sure to choose what you are interested in, and come to support the athletes. The only event which you will not be able to join is today’s opening ceremony because all tickets are sold out. But there is no reason for sorrow; the Croatian Television will broadcast one hour and 30 minutes of the show, and you’ll be able to watch it at home. Entertainment will continue at the club Roko next to the dorm Sava – today and every other day for the next two weeks. So if you are not a fan of sports, still join us at the sports events to meet people from the rest of Europe, to find out more about studying abroad or only to practice foreign languages. There are many reasons why you should join the EUG, and we will help you with daily announcements of the locations and time of competition, lectures and parties. What else to say? Enjoy Zagreb and the European Universities Games!