Vienna opening ceremony gets fourth annual European Week of Sport underway

European Athletics Vice President Jean Gracia (centre) at the opening ceremony of the 2018 European Week of Sport
European Athletics

European Athletics Vice President Jean Gracia at the opening ceremony of the 2018 European Week of Sport L-R: Dominik Distelberger, European Athletics Vice President Jean Gracia, Markus Fuchs, Sarah Lagger, Helmut Baudis, Bernhard Rauch

The 2018 European Week of Sport, with European Athletics as a partner, had a spectacular opening ceremony in Vienna’s Prater Park – alongside Austria’s annual Day of Sport – on Saturday 22 September.

Speeches and presentations were given by European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Tibor Navracsics, Vice Chancellor of Austria Heinz-Christian Strache, European Parliament member Heinz Becker, European Olympic Committees President Janez Kocijancic  and Hungarian School Sport Federation President Gábor Balogh before the dignitaries ceded the stage for a live concert.

The event was a prelude to eight days which are intended to encourage Europeans to get up and #BeActive. It is a truly European movement that began in 2015 and has inspired millions of people in 32 countries to #BeActive in their everyday lives.

 In 2017, 32 countries with 34,000 events and 12 million participants took part in the European Week of Sport and the organisers are hoping that the numbers will even be higher this year between 23-30 September.

An estimated 210,000 Europeans took part in 181 road running events in 26 countries, over half of the European Athletics Member Federations.

The Österreichischer Leichtathletik-Verband (Austrian athletics federation) also had a presence throughout Saturday, demonstrating various aspects of athletics with a set of high jump stands and bar positioned at the current world record height of 2.45m - which passers-by could walk under - getting particular attention.

In addition, many of Austria’s top athletics stars were on hand to sign autographs including distance runners Andreas Vojta, Valentin Pfeil and Christian Steinhammer, sprinter Markus Fuchs, and multi-events exponents Ivona Dadic, Sarah Lagger and Dominik Distelberger.

European Athletics Vice President Jean Gracia, after chairing the final session of the European Athletics Member Federation Development Commission earlier in the day, was present at the European Week of Sport opening ceremony and later involved in discussions with the Österreichischer Leichtathletik-Verband.