Athletes and teams received a warm Croatian welcome at the Opening Ceremony of the IFMA/EMF European Championships 2016 on Sunday.
Split, one of the oldest cities in Europe with Ancient Roman ruins making up the city centre, has really opened its heart to muaythai. This championship is the culmination of months of training for the athletes. And with eleven spots at the World Games 2017 up for grabs as well as the glory of winning a medal for their countries, the competition is sure to be intense.
One or two athletes from each of the countries competing marched into Gripe Stadium carrying their flags to loud applause from their supporters and the host crowd.
During the ceremony, the Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia made an emotional speech welcoming all of the teams to the city of Split. The Mayor of Split also welcomed everyone to the city, and said they have opened their hearts and homes for the athletes.
Music and dance also featured heavily, including a wonderful display of traditional Croatian Cambi singing. As per usual at IFMA and EMF events chosen representatives read the Athletes’ Oath.
Then the IFMA General Secretary addressed the athletes directly reminding them of the IFMA traditions of Fair Play and respect.
He said he expects them to shine to the best of their ability, make new friends and he wished them all the best during the next days of competition.
Now with the formalities over, the athletes are at the centre of events. Many side-events with a cultural emphasis are planned so they will leave with good memories from inside and outside the rings.
The first bouts begin Monday with two rings needed for the volume of competitors.