Existing Venues, Cost-Efficiency Keys To Successful European Games Krakow-Malopolska In 2023: Andrzej Krasnicki

Following the first inspection visit of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) to Krakow and the Malopolska region of Poland from 27-29 July, Polish Olympic Committee President Andrzej Krasnicki took the time to share his thoughts on preparations for 3rd European Games in 2023 and what the event will bring to the region.

A sensible, cost-efficient Games are on the cards, with a number of important infrastructure improvements to benefit the local population for many years to come. Visitors to the Games, he says, will be treated to world-class sports competition in existing venues, not to mention the delicious food, warm hospitality and unique beauty of the region that also awaits them.

It all bodes well for an exciting and memorable 3rd edition of Europe’s premier multi-sports event, which will take place just a year ahead of the Olympic Games Paris 2024, making it the perfect springboard for the continent’s best athletes on their Olympic journeys.

Q: How important is the use of existing and temporary facilities to the European Games Krakow-Malopolska?

A: Krakow-Malopolska has unquestionable advantages to organise the European Games – an event of great international sports significance. One of these advantages is the sports infrastructure. The European Games will be held in existing venues. The current sports base and resources will be fully used, some will be modernised. There is no need to build new ones. We presented to the EOC delegation our facilities of the Central Sports Centre in Zakopane, the Kolna Sports and Recreation Centre near Krakow, the Wisla Krakow Municipal Stadium, the Cracovia Stadium, Tauron Arena Krakow and the ICE Congress Centre. The next stage is the selection of disciplines and establishing a sports programme.

Q: What other sustainability measures will Krakow-Malopolska initiate for 2023?

A: The organization of the 3rd European Games is supported by the Polish Government. It emphasises the importance of the event and the benefits it can bring to Poland, Krakow-Malopolska and the entire Olympic family. In Poland, the European Games are considered not only in terms of costs and expenses but also opportunities.

The Marshal of the Malopolska region, Witold Kozłowski, who is extremely kind to us and involved in the project, emphasises that investing in the renovation of sports facilities or the construction of road infrastructure is an investment … in and for the inhabitants of Malopolska, which will serve them for many years. In Malopolska, roads and railroads are already being repaired to improve transportation during the European Games.

In accordance with the principle of sustainable development, everything that arises now will satisfy the needs of future generations. The residents will also be able to use the modernised sports facilities, which is undoubtedly a big advantage.

I would like to highlight one more aspect: The European Games will be the largest multisport event on the Old Continent in 2023. Such an event always influences the development of common and amateur sports among the inhabitants of the host country, which is also an element of sustainable development. Sport connects and integrates people around common values, ideas and emotions – this will certainly be the case in Poland. Poles have repeatedly shown that they are great and committed sports fans. Importantly, many expert studies and analyses show that more and more of them are taking up sports activities and this is very encouraging.

Q: Following the big-budget European Games in Baku in 2015, Minsk hosted a highly successful second edition using a smaller financial model. What route will Krakow-Malopolska take?

A: In this case, Krakow-Malopolska will follow a path similar to Minsk. The 3rd European Games, as the organisers emphasise, will be organised in an economic and rational manner, without unnecessary expenses, and with effective cost management. Optimisation is the key word, which appears frequently in the communication around this event. However, lower costs do not mean that the event will not be successful or memorable.

Q: What economic and tourism benefits do you foresee the European Games having for Krakow and the Malopolska region?

A: The European Games will be widely promoted in the media before, during and after the event. This will include varied campaigns for the distribution of information and advertisements, for instance, on social media. Therefore, it is a great opportunity for a widespread promotion, and it is a big chance to strengthen and develop the whole region. Local entrepreneurs have high hopes for significant benefits. Because of the pandemic, tourism, which is so important for Krakow and Malopolska and an important branch of our economy, found itself in crisis. I am deeply convinced that sports competitions of this significance will allow us to revive tourism in the Malopolska region.

Q: What can athletes and other visitors to Krakow-Malopolska expect when they arrive for the Games in 2023?

A: A wonderful atmosphere, a warm welcome, a competitive sports spirit, delicious food and the unique beauty of Krakow, Zakopane and other towns of Malopolska. We will rise to the challenge of showing Poland’s potential to our fellow Europeans.

Q: It is well-known worldwide that Poland is a hospitable country with a strong sports tradition. How are local people reacting to the assignment of the European Games to your country?

A: It is true – we are very welcoming, and we engage in sports projects. In our country, we have hosted many international and European tournaments, including the World Games and world and European championships in varied disciplines. However, we have never organised any kind of senior Olympic event.

The local community sees the European Games as an opportunity for the growth of our economy and tourism. The local authorities see an opportunity for new investments and developments. The Polish Government considers it a chance to promote our country and our successes internationally as well as a chance for further developments in common and amateur sports.

It would not be honest if I did not mention the voices of the opponents. I can assure you that these are uncommon, and we are doing our best to emphasise the benefits of this project. Together with the organisers, we are working to ensure that all doubts are addressed.

Q: Is the COVID-19 pandemic impacting preparations for the Games in any way?

A: The coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a standstill. It’s an extraordinary situation. However, the preparations for sports events have not been stopped, including those for the European Games. We used the time of the general quarantine and lockdown for conceptualisation and analysis. We also held many remote discussions with the organisers of the European Games. As a result of this – now that the world of sports is reopening – we can bring our ideas to life.

I want to express my gratitude to the hosts of the 3rd European Games: Jacek Majchrowski, the Mayor of Krakow, and Witold Kozłowski, the Marshal of the Malopolska region, for their full engagement and cooperation. The European Games are our joint project. I also want to thank the whole delegation of the EOC, including Niels Nygaard, Zlatko Mateša, Peter Mennel, Raffaele Pagnozzi, Jozef Liba, Peter Brüll, and Steve Scott, for their visit to Poland and constructive discussions earlier this month.