Through the annual Larnaca marathon, Cyprus responds with ‘culture and inclusivity’ to the backdrop of uncertainty and the looming spectre of war, House President Annita Demetriou on Sunday.

She was speaking before the start of the 6th Radisson Blue International Marathon in Larnaca, which this year saw a record participation of over 11,000 runners from 85 countries.

Particularly noteworthy, she said, is the participation of individuals with visual impairments and disabilities, sending additional messages of inclusivity.

Demetriou emphasized the significance of the successful institution of the Radisson Blue Larnaca Marathon, highlighting its positive impact on Cyprus, volunteers, and the global participants. “As the House of Representatives, we will continue to support this sporting event for another year,” she said.

Responding to a related question, Demetriou stated, “The organisation promotes the culture of Cyprus, and in the midst of everything happening around us, these messages are crucial. In a period of uncertainty, complexity, and unfortunately, with the agenda of war looming as a major issue, we respond with culture, participation, inclusion, and more democracy.”

She stressed the need to protect these principles and values, stating: “We will protect these principles and values with every sacrifice, and as long as it is within our power, we will safeguard them.”

Regarding the arrival of athletes from 85 countries to participate in the Larnaca Marathon, Demetriou highlighted the role of these participants as ambassadors for the island. “These individuals become ambassadors for our land, and this is something we must keep in mind. It is not accidental that, year after year, these people not only return but multiply, indicating their satisfaction with their presence and participation,” she said, extending congratulations to all those who make it a reality.

Demetriou was also captured in photographs with Cypriot singer Anna Vissi, who was among the runners, and was declared as the ambassador of Larnaca 2030 during the event.

In his own statements, the Deputy Minister of Research, Innovation, and Digital Policy, Philippos Hadjizacharias, conveyed warm wishes and congratulations on behalf of the president to the athletes, sponsors, and the Municipality of Larnaca for their contribution to organising this sporting event.

“Sport has no value if it does not promote culture, social cohesion, and love, as we know that sports bring nations together and unite families and countries,” said Hadjizacharias. He underscored the importance placed on this sporting event and expressed pride that Larnaca holds a significant position in these athletic competitions.

For his part, Larnaca Mayor Andreas Vyras characterised the day as a celebration for the city, noting that when they started the marathon seven years ago, they did not anticipate the scale it would reach. He expressed satisfaction that through the Radisson Blue Larnaca Marathon, they provide an opportunity for thousands of people from Cyprus and 84 other countries to enjoy this grand event while simultaneously promoting sports, Olympic ideals, and giving a boost to the city’s economy.

Studies showed the organisation of the Larnaca Marathon is a substantial economic boost for the city, especially in November, which is a slow month for tourism, the mayor noted.

The McDonald’s Kids Race, featuring one-kilometre participation by wheelchair users, added a special dimension to the marathon. Andreas Panayiotou, one of the participants, said he is ‘very happy’ to participate in the marathon with his handcycle. “It takes a lot of training to be part of it, but it’s a wonderful feeling,” he said.

This year, Hungarian Laszlo Bulitka won the Men’s Marathon and the Cypriot Maria Sotiriou won the Women’s Marathon.