By Lejla Biogradlija, Talha Ozturk
BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) - The 2019 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival (EYOF 2019) kicked off in the Bosnian capital with a with a dazzling opening ceremony on Sunday.
The official opening ceremony was started with lighting the Olympic flame by Bosnia and Herzegovina's best athlete Larisa Ceric.
The parade of 1,500 athletes and traditional folk dances of thousands of dancers created a colorful and visual atmosphere at Asim Ferhatovic Hase Olympic Stadium in Sarajevo.
Chairman of the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik and members of the presidency Zeljko Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic along with Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and other local officials attended the ceremony.
At his opening speech, Dodik said the young people represent their countries in the best way through sports.
“We are happy to see the Olympic fire once again in Sarajevo," he added.
Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics.
The city’s Mayor Abdulah Skaka labelled that EYOF 2019 as “a historical event” for Bosnia.
A total of 1,500 athletes between 14 and 18 years of old from 46 countries will participate in the festival taking place under the slogan "We are building it together".
During the event, athletes compete in 8 branches; alpine skiing, figure skating, biathlon, curling, cross-country skiing, short distance speed skating, snowboarding and ice hockey.
The event will end on Feb. 16 at the Slavija Stadium in East Sarajevo.
There are a winter and a summer edition of EYOF, which take place in two-year cycles, in odd-numbered years.
Last winter EYOF was held in the eastern Turkish province of Erzurum in 2017.
A total of 34 Turkish athletes are participating in this year’s festival in 6 branches.
Their competitions will begin on Monday in alpine skiing, curling, skiing and short-distance speed skating branches.