On Sunday 17th, Real Madrid’s football stadium hosted Gijón’s debut or “coming out” as European City of Sport 2016. The ceremony was held in the anteroom of the president’s box at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium and was attended by leading figures from the Madrid club, Gijón City Council and Sporting de Gijón. Emilio Butragueño, for Real Madrid, the president of Real Sporting de Gijón, Antonio Veiga, councillors Jesús Martínez Salvador and Fernando Couto, Sporting’s “ambassador”, Enrique Castro “Quini”, Divertia’s managing director and person responsible for the Tourism Department, Jorge González-Palacios, and representatives of ACES Europe, a non-profit organization based in Brussels with links to the European Parliament, all posed for the cameras to mark the event.
Gijón was massively promoted thanks to this event, as the players wore the official European City of Sport 2016 logo on their shirts and the match was seen in 140 countries by hundreds of millions of people. What’s more, the Councillor for Tourism and Sports, Jesús Martínez Salvador, had the occasion to explain the Gijón European City of Sport project and its goals before the spectators of the TV platforms broadcasting the match.
Although Sporting did not do so well on the field, Gijón scored a goal at the Bernabeu… a goal as a city that continues along the path of excellence in sport. Gijón set out on this path many years ago, a path that has given rise to a track record of top-level competitions held in our city, as well as in the setting up of sports facilities and amenities for the public, for those for whom sport is part of an everyday way of understanding leisure, health and the enjoyment of their city.
For all these reasons, Gijón has merited the distinction, which will result in the implementation of all kinds of sport-related activities over the next 12 months. The key idea is to develop a project in which sport is an element of social and educational integration, aimed at promoting values such as respect, tolerance, sportsmanship and integration, a fundamental right of all citizens.
Each month, Gijón will be represented by a different sports ambassador. Athlete and journalist Cristina Mitre was the first and we will soon know who has been chosen for the coming months, all genuine stars of one or other sporting discipline who began to practise in this city that takes care of its muscles as well as its brain.
Although the distinction was made public last September and the naming ceremony was scheduled for November, the terrorist attacks in Paris counselled postponing the event for a later date. That date has arrived, but that does not mean that Gijón has remained idle in the meanwhile. These past months have seen the presentation of the logo that will identify us as a European city of sport throughout the year, which will once again turn Gijón into a city committed to sporting activities of all kinds, not only with the holding of top-level championships, but also with a series of commitments and accords aimed at making exercise and sports even more popular.
Gijón grows as a city with each group project. This is demonstrated by the fact that Gijón’s candidacy as European City of Sports boasts the backing of no more and no less than 340 sport organizations. A part of the project includes these organizations in the holding of different events, many of which are veritable “classics” of Gijón’s sports programme: the Villa de Gijón Trophy, Climb to Campa Torres, Dionisio Fernández Nespral Tournament, El Comercio Golf Tournament, City of Gijón Handball Tournament and the Spanish Sailing Championship. The title of Gijón European City of Sports 2016 is and added complement to all these events.
The same will occur with congresses and symposiums focussing on sports and with events of national scale: 6th Villa de Jovellanos Half Marathon, Spanish Outdoor Athletics Championship, Spanish Masters Swimming Championship, Spanish Triathlon Race Championship for Clubs, Big Apple Race, San Silvestre New Year’s Eve Run and the International Show Jumping Competition-European City of Sports Grand Prize.
Over and above these major events, however, the aim is to promote the more popular aspects of sport with the addition of a programme of Gijón European City of Sports 2016 activities that has 12 operational goals that will give meaning to the activities that are organized:
• Sport and disability
• Sport and equality
• Sport for children
• Sport for senior citizens
• Sport and the environment
• Sport and the city
• Sport and research
• Sport and culture
• Sport and international relations
• Sport and social integration
• Sport and health
• High performance sport
The Bernabeu has marked the starting line for a long-distance race that will make 2016 our most sporting year. You can keep up with all the information on this sporting year here: https://www.facebook.com/gijonciudadeuropeadeporte2016/?fref=ts. We have also created the hashtag #GijonEUsport16