By Royal command, the championships are officially open

By Royal command, the championships are officially open
European Athletics

European Athletics President Hansen and his Royal Highness King Willem-Alexander opened the 23rd European Athletics Championships at the ceremony held at Museumplein on Tuesday evening.

On a cool Amsterdam evening, and in the presence of the Monarch, the 23rd European Athletics Championships were officially opened tonight.

His Royal Highness King Willem-Alexander took his place alongside Svein Arne Hansen, the President of European Athletics, and Dutch athletes past and present at the Museumplein for a glorious occasion.

The flags of all 50 nations competing here were carried in, with the last being that of the hosts, brought by youngsters and championship mascot Adam on the final part of its journey and handed on to Dutch heptathlete Nadine Broersen.

With cameras at the ready from the big crowd watching - which included among the dignitaries the IAAF President Sebastian Coe - it was time to launch the party.

As trumpeters played, Ellen van Langen, the Netherlands' 1992 Olympic 800m champion, sprinter Churandy Martina and discus thrower Rutger Smith raised the 'Amsterdam 2016' flag in the middle of the spectacular giant ball which stands tall by the arena and the championships had finally arrived.

President Hansen officially declared them open before posing with King Willem-Alexander and the athletes for pictures, having earlier told the crowd of one event he cannot wait for.

In what will be a tremendous week of action, President Hansen said: “I am really looking forward to the 100m final on Friday night with Dafne Schippers.”

The race is at 9.45pm and will be a glorious moment for the hosts if Schippers successfully defends her title in front of a packed stadium of her own fans.

But the setting of the Museumplein will also give the championships something extra with the qualificaitions for discus and javelin competitions taking place here, spreading the word to those outside of the stadium of the brilliance of these major events.