Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

EuroGames missteps leave athletes frustrated

Track and field competitors in the 2015 EuroGames being held in Stockholm, Sweden knew on the eve of the event that they would not be happy with several of the decisions made by EuroGames organizers. (See August 6 JockTalk.) Athletes in other disciplines, however, were caught off guard by last-minute schedule announcements, venue changes, and event cancellations that triggered a barrage of complaints on EuroGames Facebook pages and elicited an apology for the event’s president.

(Volleyball competition at the EuroGames was delayed and the venue changed, frustrating many participants. Photo: Courtesy EuroGames 2015)

(Volleyball competition at the EuroGames was delayed and the venue changed, frustrating many participants. Photo: Courtesy EuroGames 2015)

“From myself, the board and the whole team behind EuroGames Stockholm 2015, we would like to hugely and truly apologize for canceling the triathlon, the venue/schedule change for volleyball, unclear communication for track and field, and the schedule changes for swimming,” Jakob Jansson, president of the Stockholm EuroGames, wrote athletes and spectators Friday, August 7. “We will try our very best to change and improve all situations and fight day and night to make the best out of all single situations. Of course, none of this has happened on purpose. With years of planning, assistance from experts and national sport federations this should not have happen[ed] and we recognize and respect all feedback and complaints. We take full responsibility and will try to solve every single situation so that you can compete and engage in EuroGames Stockholm 2015.”

Jansson went on to write, “Our intention and goal has been to organize the best EuroGames ever and we have listened to your thought and criticism, but also your positive feedback, to create an amazing game. We are deeply sorry for the lack of communication, information on short notice, and the problems we’ve might put you under. This hasn’t been our intention.”

Although some sports ran smoothly and the San Francisco Spikes reported having a very positive tournament experience, event Facebook pages were blowing up this week with comments from outraged participants. The 2015 EuroGames were scheduled to have 27 sports, but roller derby was canceled because of poor registration numbers even before the games began, and at 11 p.m. Thursday, August 6 Stockholm time, just hours after the opening ceremonies, organizers announced the cancelation of the triathlon competition, citing an algae bloom that made the water unfit for swimming, and unsafe road conditions for the cycling portion.

In addition to complaints of mismanagement of the schedules in swimming and track and field, as well as the tardiness of organizers in releasing the schedules, there were allegations of badly organized events in several other sports.

The start of volleyball had to be delayed and the location changed because of venue problems, organizers said. Badminton and squash schedules were changed after players complained there were no round robin matches and not enough matches overall. When the badminton schedule was redrawn, many competitors noted their names had been accidentally dropped.

France’s Giampiero Mancinelli, organizer of the Gay and Lesbian International Track and Field Association, wrote a formal letter of protest to the city of Stockholm and local TV and radio stations.

“Stockholm’s image might be damaged forever to the eyes of the LGBT world community, after the worst organization ever of the EuroGames 2015,” Mancinelli wrote. “Not only have the local organizers been manifestly incompetents on the sport side. But they have also been manifestly disrespectful of the athletes and participants … lying directly to their faces and ignoring (and even censoring on Facebook) any question or suggestion from official and unofficial LGBT organizations. The cancelation of the triathlon a few hours before the scheduled start, the cancelation of at least the first day of competition in volleyball, the dismal organization of the swimming and track and field (though in beautiful venues) are some of the results. Rumors of problems in badminton, tennis, and football have also come to my ears. Stockholm might have very well killed the EuroGames. A shame! Only a miracle, and a refund of not only the participants’ fees but also, for the triathlon, of their hotel and transportation would make things bearable. In any case a real shame for a country where sports are deemed to be so important.”

Numerous organizations and athletes, some of whom have traveled from as far as Australia, are demanding refunds of registration fees and bicycle rentals. A EuroGames Stockholm Critic Facebook page has been sent up where athletes are venting their frustrations.

The San Francisco Spikes, however, reported having a favorable time in Stockholm.

“The San Francisco Spikes Soccer Club brought together local and international Spikes’ members from five countries to this year’s Stockholm EuroGames,” Trey Allen, club president, wrote the Bay Area Reporter. “The organizing body emailed frequent updates, a Facebook page was created for the futbol competition, transportation logistics mapped and signs posted between the metro stop and futbol facility. The organizing was simply perfect! The opening ceremony corralled each country along historic pedestrian streets before marching us before hundreds of applauding friends, family, and Swedes to the tech savvy performance stage. There was a clear focus on the power of sport on culture and human rights. The positive nature of the event inspired us to strive for more than just wins, but equality around the world.”

Allen continued, “Organizers of these events went to great lengths to create a magical experience for each player and team and the SF Spikes Soccer Club is grateful for the many thankless hours that volunteers worked. The emphasis on controversy pails in comparison to the impact this event has in the area and on the players that will take this incredible moment with them to recreate clubs and teams in their hometowns. The SF Spikes are so impressed with the hard work and success of the Stockholm EuroGames, we are already considering the Helsinki EuroGames in 2016.”

– reported by Roger Brigham

— Cynthia Laird, August 7, 2015 @ 1:11 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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