EOC Coordination Commission chair Hasan Arat said the Polish Government has "committed its full support to the Games" ©EOC

European Olympic Committees (EOC) Kraków-Małopolska 2023 Coordination Commission chair Hasan Arat has credited the Polish Government and the "responsible model" for helping to overcome challenges related to the European Games here.

Kraków-Małopolska 2023's preparations were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Poland has dedicated significant resources to the relief effort for the war in Ukraine, with more than 12 million refugees crossing the border from its western neighbour since February 2022.

However, Arat insisted that the support of the Polish Government and focus on existing and temporary venues for the Games had made Kraków and the Małopolska region ready.

"At the start, in common with sports organisations around the world, the huge challenge we needed to overcome was the COVID-19 pandemic," the Turkish official said.

"Then, almost immediately after this issue started to go away, the war in Ukraine became a major challenge, since Poland is located just over the border and has welcomed two million refugees.

"Naturally, the situation has placed great demands on the Polish Government.

"In spite of it all, they did not give up and the Government, under the leadership of President [Andrzej] Duda, has committed its full support to the Games.

"It is thanks to this, and thanks also to the responsible model of these Games, which have not required any new venue construction, that we are able to start the competition in a few days’ time."

A long-awaited Host City Contract for Kraków-Małopolska 2023 was signed in May last year, and Russian and Belarusian athletes are unable to participate because of the war in Ukraine.

More than 12 million refugees have crossed the Polish border from Ukraine since Russia's invasion in February last year ©Getty Images
More than 12 million refugees have crossed the Polish border from Ukraine since Russia's invasion in February last year ©Getty Images

Arat added that "preparation is the difficult part" and "as organisers, we always feel better when the competition begins".

He pointed to the broadcasting deal with the European Broadcasting Union covering 50 countries, the inclusion of an EOC Refugee Team, the addition of padel, muaythai, kickboxing and rugby sevens on to the programme and the European Esports Championships in Katowice as a side event among the new elements set to be on offer at Kraków-Małopolska 2023.

"We have to be innovative and the European Games give us this opportunity to promote sports that could become part of the Olympic programme in the future, following the example of basketball 3x3 in Baku 2015," Arat said.

"It’s important for us to act as a bridge between the current and potential future Olympic sports and sport disciplines."

Of the 29 sports on the programme, 22 are set to feature at Paris 2024.

Beach handball, beach soccer, karate, kickboxing, padel, summer ski jumping and teqball are all non-Olympic disciplines.

The European Games are due to run from Wednesday (June 21) until July 2.