EOC President Spyros Capralos said he is "positively surprised" at the start of Kraków-Małopolska 2023 ©Kraków-Małopolska 2023

European Olympic Committees President Spyros Capralos has admitted it is "positively surprised" by the regional model deployed for the European Games here, but has admitted low crowds at some events is "something a little bit negative".

For the third edition of the Games, organisers are using 12 host towns and cities in addition to Kraków, where 11 of the 29 sports on the programme are being held.

It is claimed this keeps down costs and allows existing or temporary venues to be used.

Following on from the previous two European Games in Azerbaijan's capital Baku and Belarus' capital Minsk, Capralos insisted the regional approach had proved a hit with athletes.

"We are very positively surprised about how the Games are going," he told insidethegames.

"They are going very smoothly in the first few days.

"First of all the athletes, because the Games are made for the athletes - they are very happy.

"They are happy with where they stay, they are happy with the food that they eat, they are happy that the venues are not very far for them.

"It is a little bit more inconvenient for us, the officials, because we need to travel quite a lot of time."

Capralos has travelled to venues as far as Wrocław for shooting, with the city approximately a three-hour one-way drive from Kraków.

Shooting events at Kraków-Małopolska 2023 have been held in Wrocław, more than three hours from Kraków ©Kraków-Małopolska 2023
Shooting events at Kraków-Małopolska 2023 have been held in Wrocław, more than three hours from Kraków ©Kraków-Małopolska 2023

Capralos admitted disappointment at crowd figures at some events so far, but hopes numbers will increase in the remaining days before the Games conclude on Sunday (July 2).

"If I had to say there was something a little bit negative about the Games, I do not see too many Polish people in the stands," the International Olympic Committee (IOC) member added.

"I think there was not much advertising or poor marketing, but I hope with the development of the Games the enthusiasm is coming and people realise that this is the biggest event in Europe."

The Opening Ceremony last Wednesday (June 21) featured an attendance of 20,138 at the Henryk Reyman Stadium, which holds more than 33,000 spectators for Wisła Kraków football matches.

Low attendances were particularly notably at the European Athletics Team Championships held alongside the Games with official medals in the 55,211-seater Silesian Stadium in Chorzów.

One of the most notable features of the European Games has been playing padel finals in Kraków's Main Square on Sunday (June 25), with matches concluding in the early hours yesterday morning.

Capralos claimed "the people, the enthusiasm and the interest" vindicated the decision to stage the finals in the Main Square against the backdrop of iconic buildings, with teqball matches also set to be played there from tomorrow until Saturday (July 1).

They are two of the eight non-Olympic sports on the programme, and Capralos is confident the European Games has offered a good platform for those to showcase their potential.

"Always we will work together with our organisers to see what are the sports of interest, and we try new things," he said.

"From the beginning, we have always tried to find some sports that were not in the Olympic programme because we think some of these sports may develop and be part of it.

"That's what we did here, and I think the IOC is seeing what we are doing."

Padel in Kraków's Main Square has been among the highlights of the European Games, and Spyros Capralos said the EOC is happy to
Padel in Kraków's Main Square has been among the highlights of the European Games, and Spyros Capralos said the EOC is happy to "try new things" ©Kraków-Małopolska 2023

The European Games added to a crowded market of continental sports events when launched for the inaugural edition in Baku in 2015, adding to the challenge of establishing itself on the calendar and securing the participation of top athletes in all sports.

Capralos has argued that Kraków-Małopolska 2023 represents the biggest sporting event in Europe since the 2012 Olympics in London, and believes qualification for Paris 2024 opportunities in 10 sports add to its appeal.

He hopes this can bring other sports to the programme, with swimming among the notable absentees, and well as gymnastics for this edition due to a lack of a suitable venue.

"I think with the success of the European Games, we have more and more interest of International and European Federations to bring their sports in the European Games programme," Capralos said.

"Of course, the conditions we put is that we need to have the best European athletes, and we need the sport to be an Olympic qualification or a European Championship.

"That guarantees the presence of the best European athletes, and we see that in every sport including athletics."