By Poly Pantelides
CYPRUS is a giant in the Games of the Small States of Europe competition, but this year it needed help from Luxembourg to get there.
The Cyprus Olympic Committee said that the Luxembourg government gave Cyprus €100,000 to get to the games, with Luxembourg’s Olympic committee volunteering a further €20,000. The European Olympic Committee also agreed to lend Cyprus an additional €150,000.
“In this way Cyprus was there, with a strong – if not complete – team in Luxembourg,” a Cyprus Olympic committee news statement said of the event which started on Tuesday and was completed yesterday. Cyprus sent 131 athletes with the games featuring a range of competitions, from athletics and gymnastics, to basketball, cycling and shooting. Cyprus hosted the games in 2009.
According to Cyprus Olympic committee member Olga Piperidou, the committee had lost some €660,000 because of the banking sector’s restructuring as part of Cyprus €10 billion international bailout.
Cypriot athletes held up a banner thanking Luxembourg during the games’ opening ceremony. Cyprus has proved to be a traditionally high performer in the biennial games held since 1985.
“We want our athletes to feel national pride and strive to achieve the best despite the harsh financial circumstances we are unfortunately going through,” said the Cyprus Olympic committee head Ouranios Ioannides during a news conference on the day the Cyprus team left for Luxembourg.
The games are open to any European country with less than a million inhabitants. This makes it a cosy affair with nine European countries competing for gold: Iceland, Andorra, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco and San Marino, and Montenegro. Taking turns to host the games, the competition is an opportunity for these smaller countries to shine.
Cyprus has been an integral part of the competition, a formidable competitor in many disciplines and has ranked first in the previous five editions of the games.