THE EUROPEAN AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS OFFICIALLY OPEN. PRESIDENT BARELLI (ITA): 'IT WILL BE A GREAT SHOW'
The curtains have officially opened on the 36th edition of the European Aquatics Championships, which have started in Rome today, August 11. This afternoon at the Foro Italico Swimming Stadium, the opening ceremony took place with Rome being the aquatics capital until August 21st. A sober and engaging ceremony opened by Roma 2022 Ambassadors Filippo Magnini and Massimiliano Rosolino who, like true showmen and announcers, entertained the audience that stormed into the Foro Italico.
There was an initial moment of solemnity with the parade of flags and athletes from the 47 participant nations, closed by the Italian one carried by swimmer Sara Franceschi.
This was followed by the entrance of the two mascots, Golden Retriever Lea and Newfoundlander Gastone, the real stars of the European Championships.
And then, the grand finale with the flag of Roma 2022, waved by the event’s patroness Federica Pellegrini, still holding the women's 200m freestyle world record today, that she set at the world championships in Rome 2009. She walked excitedly around her favorite pool for the first time without swimming cap and goggles. The ceremony ended with greetings from the President of the Italian Swimming Federation Paolo Barelli, the Mayor of Rome Roberto Gualtieri, the President of the Latium Region Nicola Zingaretti and the LEN President Antonio Silva.
SPEECH OF PRESIDENT OF ITALIAN SWIMMING FEDERATION PAOLO BARELLI.
It’s always exciting for me to be here, in this beautiful Swimming Stadium that the whole world envies us. Here I used to swim as a child; here I experienced some of the best moments of my life as an athlete; here, as a sports manager, I have seen and experienced races that cannot be forgotten, like those in Rome 2009 with so many world records, but also for the enthusiasm they generated in the city, in Latium, in Europe, everywhere: I am proud to say that they were one of the best events ever. The European Championships in Rome have a special taste in many ways: they bring an international sporting event back to the city, and we know how much sport is a driving force for the economy of tourism, for social inclusion, for knowledge among peoples. They come after years of success for swimming and all the aquatic disciplines that have grown in Italy in results and numbers, thanks to the many, too many, sacrifices made by sports clubs, athletes, coaches, and managers. They have a different taste, these European Championships now at their 36th edition, because after the Covid, the lockdown, all the restrictions and worries, we are finally getting back to normal life. Here, in the open air, under the pines of Rome, we want to be organisers of a Championships that are extraordinary in terms of sporting results, to promote the image of an efficient Italy, the civic sense linked to sustainability, the spread of the culture of water, which guarantees through lifeguards the safety of all those who swim along our coasts, in the rivers and lakes of our wonderful country. You athletes are the witnesses of values that are ancient but always relevant: of tolerance, of sharing, of brotherhood, of which there is more and more need in today's society as it is unfortunately demonstrated by the tragic nature of wars. You athletes practise these values every day, and we are all grateful to you. As we are to all the coaches and every other person who works with you. As we are to the volunteers: without you, no great sporting event would be possible. As we are to the police forces, who protect and defend our freedom. As we are to the media operators whose stories spread virtue and knowledge. I want to thank all the authorities, national and territorial, who have supported and backed us over the years, from the bid to today. Thanks to the Italian Government, represented here by Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti; to the Latium Region and its President Nicola Zingaretti; to the Mayor of Rome Roberto Gualtieri: without unity of purpose and teamwork, crucial in life as in sport, no success is achievable. Thanks to all our partners and sponsors who have placed their trust in us. Special thanks to you all, the passionate audience. We are ready. Enjoy the competitions. Have fun.
SPEECH OF THE MAJOR OF ROME, ROBERTO GUALTIERI
After almost 40 years, the European Aquatics Championships return to Rome.
I thank everyone for the extraordinary teamwork that made it possible to bring this prestigious sporting event back to the capital.
A championship that Rome capital has strongly desired and supported, which is followed all over the world and will give great visibility to the entire city.
Organising such a relevant international event in Italy, which has more than 5 million practitioners of aquatic disciplines, is a great achievement for the Italian Federation, for the country, and for Rome. This event is an extraordinary opportunity for the city and its territory, thanks to the great adventure of the events that, starting today, will be held until 21 August, but also for the subsequent European Aquatics Masters Championships that from 24 August to 4 September will bring thousands of fans to the city, families, and athletes, helping to promote a very strong message of passion and commitment.
This event also allows us to upgrade the existing facilities, to offer greater accessibility to our sports facilities, making them safer and more modern in order to guarantee and promote sport among citizens and to bring more and more people closer to the sports practice.
Let me greet with great affection the athletes who in these days will compete in different disciplines, in suggestive facilities like this one at the Foro Italico. This is a wonderful celebration of sport, so have fun everyone and good luck to the athletes competing.
SPEECH OF THE PRESIDENT OF
LAZIO REGION NICOLA ZINGARETTI
Good afternoon everyone, it is a great pleasure to be together today for another fantastic sporting event that is a symbol of restart and of being a community. I would immediately like to thank the President of the FIN, Paolo Barelli, the President of the LEN – Ligue Européenne de Natation, Antonio Silva, and the Mayor of Rome Capital, Roberto Gualtieri, for their commitment and for the sharing of objectives that have guided us since the beginning of this journey. A huge thank you also goes to the athletes attending, who after their latest successes at the World Championships in Budapest continue to give us unique and unforgettable feelings.
It is with particular enthusiasm that we welcome back sport, all the emotions and wonderful days of socialising that it is able to give us.
The history of the world and of Europe has unfortunately been marked by pandemics and fear, and now also by tragic conflicts. Health emergencies and war have represented and still represent hard times during which, however, we must not stop believing that there can be a better future and, above all, we must never lose hope. A powerful cure is therefore to finally return to competition, healthy competitive spirit and respect for values.
Right from the beginning, the Latium Region has wanted to give concrete support to these European Aquatics Championships, as it has always done with this wonderful discipline, with their sports clubs, and this is how it will be after this splendid event in all the districts, not only of our city but of all Latium.
Today we all want to send out an important signal together.
Welcome to Rome, an amazing stage that will bring days of sport to the many fans both in the stands and connected from all over the world. Let's get this sporting competition under the banner of joy, participation and friendship between peoples started right away.
SPEECH OF THE LEN PRESIDENT ANTONIO JOSE' SILVA
As President of LEN, I am honoured to be with you today to celebrate the opening of the European Championships, Roma 2022.
It is great to be back at the beautiful Foro Italica, the heart of sport in Rome and a legendary venue for Aquatics, which has hosted European, World and Olympic competitions in the past. For the first time in 4 years, spectators will be back in the stands to cheer on our athletes. Italy is a country that loves our sport and the competitors in swimming, artistic swimming, diving, and high diving can be sure to get great support.
With 951 athletes from 46 of our federations, LEN has brought Europe together again.
LEN, together with many of our Member Federations, have actively supported Ukrainian athletes and officials so they could live, train, and prepare for competition outside the war zone.
I am happy that Ukraine’s athletes can be in Rome to fulfil their sporting dreams.
In artistic swimming, Rome will see the first-ever senior European men’s solo event and High Diving also appears for the first time at a European Championships with a 30 m tall tower and 6 m deep pool built to welcome Europe’s best.
Great efforts have been made to ensure that our athletes have the best possible environment to perform and that fans, and millions of TV viewers around Europe, can enjoy top class competition.
I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Italian Swimming Federation, as well as to the authorities of the city of Rome and the Italian State. Thank you, Paolo Barelli, FIN President, Roberto Gualtieri, the Mayor of Rome and Nicola Zingaretti, President of Lazio Region. Your commitment to hosting this event, despite the challenges caused by the Covid epidemic.
Thanks also to the thousands of volunteers who show Italian hospitality at its best.
Finally, I would like to thank all the LEN National Federations, our broadcast and sponsor partners and the media. Your passion and dedication to the sport will help us continue to grow. Thank you very much.