By Rebekah Gregoriades

Cyprus’ Geri Olympics for senior citizens kicked off on Monday with the participation of Greece and the United States, with the minister in charge of social welfare vowing to support the elderly through a national strategy, set to launch by September.

Over a thousand senior citizens are taking part in the week-long games, organised as part of the European Mobility Week by the laboratory of medical physics and digital innovation of the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki in cooperation with Archangel Michael home in Kaimakli, Nicosia, and the West Virginia institute for Geri Olympics and active living.

The games are being held by 52 organisations simultaneously in Cyprus and Greece, and include fun activities, favourite sports and quizzes.

“They are a celebration of life in an age when scientific and medical advancement, as well as the improvement of the quality of health and care services provided, offered more years of service and opportunities in all sectors, including sports,” said the deputy minister, Marilena Evangelou, opening the second games in Nicosia, at the Evangelos Florakis sports facilities in Nicosia.

Evangelou referred to the ageing population around the globe, noting that her deputy ministry was “coordinating the first national strategy and national action plan for the third age”.

The national strategy has three main pillars, addressing social inclusion, healthy ageing and diversity and inequality, and may be tabled at the cabinet earlier than anticipated.

“It is a grand plan with the involvement of 11 ministries and deputy ministries, and its implementation is closely monitored by President [Nikos] Christodoulides himself,” she added.

Evangelou said senior citizens were the fastest developing part of the population with diverse identities and needs.

“Today we are not just spectators. Today we are part of an event that honours the past, embraces the present, and inspires the future,” she said, as she congratulated all the participants.