Some of the teams – (photo Ukraine Muaythai Federation)

The muaythai athletes of Europe were welcomed to Prague with an exciting display of song and dance bringing Czech culture right into the ring. And Leo the Czech Lion – mascot of the event – danced his way around the stadium to everyone’s delight.

The Opening was held in TipSport Arena which will be the venue for the competition, starting tomorrow. First into the centre was Leo the Lion – a life-size version of the famous Czech lion (don’t worry, not a real lion!). Dressed in muaythai shorts, shin-guards, boxing gloves and a crown he danced and even ‘flossed’ in the style of the Backpack Kid for Olympic Day.

Each national team was represented by one athlete, with the flags carried by very young athletes from muaythai gyms in Prague. Wearing Sport Is Your Gang t-shirts, the children proudly carried

Stephan Fox, general secretary of IFMA welcomed the athletes to the stadium. He reminded them that already  being at this level is a huge achievement, and called on them to remember to have fun and make friends as well as the serious side of the tournament. Mr Fox said the core values of muaythai including fair play must be honoured during the event.

Khun Somchai, charge d’affaire from the Thai embassy in Prague addressed the crowd, saying how proud Thailand is to see this sport which originated in their country now practiced around the world. He said IFMA is the sole body recognised by the Thai goverment to promote amateur muaythai, and wished everyone the  best of luck in the event.

And of course Petr Ottrich, head of the Czech muaythai federation welcomed everyone to his home city. He thanked the sponsors and organising committee for their hard work and said he wished for every athlete to do their best. This event is part of the Harley Davidson 115 year anniversary, and many events are planned to link the two.

The athletes were entertained by a troupe of dancers doing traditional dances, including a choreographed mock-battle. And in the ring the Czech national anthem was powerfully sung by Michaela Gemrotova, and she then partnered with a young boy – local athlete Martin Zvachta  – to sing the Muaythai Song.

And right at the end the tape was cut and the 2018 tournament declared open.

A full list of muaythai athletes is available on IFMA Live  and the programme is on EU Muaythai Prague.

Bouts start tomorrow and can be watched on the IFMA Youtube channel.

Follow IFMA on IFMA Instagram  IFMA Facebook and IFMA Twitter for updates!

Find out about the Harley Davidson 115 celebrations.