6th Pan-Armenian Summer Games Open in Yerevan

The opening ceremony of the 6th Pan-Armenian Summer Games in Yerevan
The opening ceremony of the 6th Pan-Armenian Summer Games in Yerevan

The opening ceremony of the 6th Pan-Armenian Summer Games in Yerevan

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The Sixth Pan-Armenian Games have opened in Yerevan, bringing together over 6,300 athletes from Armenia and Armenian communities abroad.

The Games, currently held every four years, are designed to foster closer relationships between Armenia and its far-flung Diaspora.

Athletes coming from several dozen countries of the world will compete during 10 days for medals in as many as 17 sports, including soccer, mini-soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, table tennis, swimming, track and field athletics, chess, badminton, cycling, shooting, arm-wrestling, golf, handball, beach volleyball and sport dancing.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian welcomed “our Diaspora sisters and brothers to Mother Armenia” as he addressed the opening ceremony held at the Vazgen Sarkisian Republican Stadium Sunday night.

“When organizing the Pan-Armenian Games, our first goal was to ensure the broadest participation so that sports and healthy lifestyle reach every one of us. Moreover, it is very important for sports to unite people and become one of the realities consolidating our people all over the world,” he said. “I am confident that you keep these central values burning in your hearts.”

When the first Pan-Armenian Games were held in 1999 the number of athletes participating in the events was just over a thousand. The geography of the Games was also less extensive as it included only 23 countries and 63 cities, compared to 36 countries and 175 cities today. Sixteen years ago athletes competed only in 10 sports.

“Many of you represent already the 4th or 5th generation born in the Diaspora. There are people among you who have visited their homeland for the first time. There are people who find it hard to speak in Armenian. But Armenia is always in their soul, and Armenia’s heart is open to them,” President Sarkissian said in his speech, as quoted by his press office.

“All the people present here are bound together by one commonality—the Armenian identity. No matter how many new and different additional strata of identities are added, Armenianness, being Armenians is our mother identity. It is that very identity that in this year marked by Armenian Genocide commemorative events makes us repeat the slogan of 2015—I Remember and Demand.”

In 2014, Armenia also hosted the first Winter Pan-Armenian Games.

President Sarkissian’s full speech read as follows:

Dear compatriots,

I cordially welcome all the participants and guests of the 6th Pan-Armenian Summer Games. On behalf of all of us, I would like to say to our diaspora sisters and brothers welcome to the homeland, welcome to mother Armenia.

The Olympic Movement truly accomplishes a great and crucial mission in the present-day world. All countries and peoples consider it an honor to take part in that movement. Undoubtedly, the Olympic Games, too, are based on healthy competition, fair struggle and on the postulate that the winner is the strongest, where the most important principle is participation, not victory.

When organizing the Pan-Armenian Games, our first goal was to ensure the broadest participation so that sports and a healthy way of life reach every one of us. Moreover, it is very important for sports to unite people and become one of the realities consolidating our people all over the world.

Dear athletes,

I am confident that you keep these central values burning in your hearts. The sports teams that have arrived here to take part in the 6th Pan-Armenian Games come from different countries of the world.

Let us look and see what progress we have made over these 16 years. In relation to the first games held in 1999, the number of participating countries has increased by one third, rising from 23 to 36. The number of participating cities has grown two and a half times, rising from 63 to 175, and the number of athletes has increased six times, rising from 1141 to 6352. The number of sports categories has grown from seven to 17.

Many of you represent already the 4th or 5th generation born in the diaspora. There are people among you who have visited their homeland for the first time. There are people who find it hard to talk Armenian. But Armenia is always in their soul, and Armenia’s heart is open to them.

All the people present here are bound together by one commonality – the Armenian identity. No matter how many new and different additional strata of identities are added, Armenianness, being Armenians is our mother identity. It is that very identity that in this year marked by Armenian Genocide commemorative events makes us repeat the slogan of 2015 – “I Remember and Demand.”

Dear friends,

Today, representatives from the younger generations of different communities in mother Armenia, Artsakh and the diaspora are taking part in this solemn ceremony.

During the games, you must compete in a way befitting Armenians, i.e. fairly and justly, in a true Olympic spirit. During these days, you will find new friends, and will keep the fire of that friendship burning throughout your entire lives. I strongly believe that the flame of the Pan-Armenian Games will keep on guiding you for many years to come.

Congratulating all of us, I would like to announce the opening of the 6th Pan-Armenian Games.

Thank you.

Authors

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