YEREVAN — The Sixth Pan-Armenian Games have opened in Yerevan, bringing together over 6,300 athletes from Armenia and Armenian communities abroad.
The Games, currently held every four years, are designed to foster closer relationships between Armenia and its far-flung Diaspora.
Athletes coming from several dozen countries of the world are competing during 10 days for medals in as many as 17 sports, including soccer, mini-soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, table tennis, swimming, track and field athletics, chess, badminton, cycling, shooting, arm-wrestling, golf, handball, beach volleyball and sport dancing.
The official opening ceremony first led the present to the ancient capital of Armenia, Erebuni, passing through the brightest and memorable pages of the history of Armenia. Then the Armenian national flag, accompanied by the guard of honor, was brought to the stadium.
The sports parade was opened by the representatives of the second Armenian republic, the delegation of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (3 cities – Stepanakert, Shushi and Berdzor, 138 sportsmen in total). Then the delegations from 165 countries joined the parade, including 197 sportsmen, representing Tehran the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The US delegation is represented by of 256 athletes from 13 cities. The capital of Argentina Buenos Aires also had a large number of athletes – 191. The Germany’s Cologne sent 106 sportsmen to the 6th PanArmenian Summer Games. The Turkish delegation included 81 athletes. And the parade was concluded by 500 sportsmen
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian welcomed “our Diaspora sisters and brothers to Mother Armenia” as he addressed the opening ceremony held at the Vazgen Sarkisian Republican Stadium Sunday night.
“When organizing the Pan-Armenian Games, our first goal was to ensure the broadest participation so that sports and healthy lifestyle reach every one of us. Moreover, it is very important for sports to unite people and become one of the realities consolidating our people all over the world,” he said. “I am confident that you keep these central values burning in your hearts.”
When the first Pan-Armenian Games were held in 1999 the number of athletes participating in the events was just over a thousand. The geography of the Games was also less extensive as it included only 23 countries and 63 cities, compared to 36 countries and 175 cities today. Sixteen years ago athletes competed only in 10 sports.
“Many of you represent already the 4th or 5th generation born in the Diaspora. There are people among you who have visited their homeland for the first time. There are people who find it hard to speak in Armenian. But Armenia is always in their soul, and Armenia’s heart is open to them,” President Sarkisian said in his speech, as quoted by his press office.
“All the people present here are bound together by one commonality – the Armenian identity. No matter how many new and different additional strata of identities are added, Armenianness, being Armenians is our mother identity. It is that very identity that in this year marked by Armenian Genocide commemorative events makes us repeat the slogan of 2015 – I Remember and Demand.”