More excitement on the Black Sea!

The 1st Black Sea Games, organized for the purpose of consolidating cooperation in sports among the member-countries of the Black Sea Economic Union, are being held among young athletes age 18 and under in the center Trabzon as well as in the Turkish provinces of Rize and Giresun. Approximately 3000 people, including over 2500 athletes from 12 countries and 500 technical people and managers, are taking part in the games, which were launched last month.

The project, for which Turkey has provided leadership ever since the first meeting of experts held on 17 February 1997, became a reality in 2007 following a long and arduous process. To make the games even more popular, they were opened to all member countries of the Black Sea Economic Union and not just those on the Black Sea coast. The purpose of the project is to strengthen the bonds of friendship and brotherhood among the youth and athletes of the countries, to contribute to the development of existing social and cultural relations, and to provide ongoing assistance and cooperation among the national federations.
Responding to Turkey’s invitation, Azerbaijan, Serbia, Georgia, Albania, Greece, Moldova, Armenia, Rumania, Russia, Bulgaria and Ukraine have gone down in history as the first countries to take part in the Black Sea Games. Included in the games are the Olympic sports of archery, track and field, swimming, taekwondo, wrestling, rhythmic gymnastics, bicycling, volleyball, basketball and soccer. A program for handicapped athletes has also been included with demonstration competitions in three categories.
Following the overall preparations, a promotional meeting, hosted by Assistant to the Prime Minister and Minister of State for Sports, Mehmet Ali Şahin, and General Director of Sports Mehmet Atalay, was held at the Istanbul Olympic Stadium. Attending the meeting were the governor of Trabzon, Nuri Okutan, the Trabzon Director of Youth and Sports, Şerif Özgür, the Chairman of the Black Sea Games Organizational Committee, Yunus Akgül, and the managers of the participating sports federations. In a speech he made at the launching, Assistant to the Prime Minister and Minister of State Mehmet Ali Şahin said: “Sport is the most important instrument of peace. A common mode of communication among people of different nationalities, religions, races and politics. As a country that places importance on youth and sports, we took the lead in organizing the 1st Black Sea Games for the purpose of developing feelings of brotherhood among the youth and athletes of the member-countries of the Black Sea Economic Union, of imbuing them with the Olympic spirit, and of contributing to the promotion of the Black Sea region. And we are going to be the first hosts of this important event on 2-8 July 2007. Whether for the scope of the organization, or their being the first, or for their great contribution to the promotion of Turkey, the 1st Black Sea Games are worth their weight in gold.”