Winter Olympic Festival starts in Pristina
As the 2018 Winter Olympics commence in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Kosovo also officially saw the start of their Olympic Festival on Monday, 12 February. Hosted by the Kosovo Olympic Committee in collaboration with United Nations Kosovo Team (UNKT) with special support from UNFPA in Kosovo, UN Development Coordinator Andrew Russell addresses the public, promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and emphasizing sports’ cross-cutting relevance to the 2030 global goals. The ceremony was attended by dozens of children from across Kosovo with their curious eyes digesting every part of the unfamiliar winter sports.
With the growing importance of the SDGs to the region as well as globally, the festival comes at a timely time just weeks after the formal adoption of the SDG Resolution by the Kosovo parliament. Sports, in particular, has a significant positive influence on the discourse of SDG 3 (Good health and Well Being), SDG 4 (Quality Education), SDG 5 (Gender Equality) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). UNKT, but especially UNFPA in Kosovo values this opportunity to support the Kosovo Olympic Committee in proliferating the active engagement of sports through the region to promote social and cultural integration, as well as the healthy behavior of youth.
The festival’s main attraction is the ice rink, with over 100 volunteers from the local University of Pristina (Hasan Prishtina) participating to help children and adults alike, to step foot on the synthetic ice. Ice skating, along with most winter sports at the Winter Olympics, is not practiced by many in Kosovo. Many young boys and girls tried ice skating for the first time and found it equally amusing. Also, they had the opportunity to try curling and witness some other Olympic sports demonstrations. Thus, the festival successfully introduced a new vibrance of excitement bringing the Winter Olympics closer to its people.
The Olympic Festival hosted in Kosovo, is part of a 9 pilot-project for increasing the role of National Olympic Committees (NOCs) with other pilots being run in Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Italy, Netherlands, and Slovenia. The United Nations has long since supported the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the global level. The UNKT is committed to supporting and implementing this partnership at the local level as Kosovo steadily establishes its role in sports.
The festival and the ice rink will be available throughout the course of the Winter Olympics until the 25th of February 2018 in the Plateau next to Grand Hotel, Pristina central.