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First Olympic medallists greeted as Day of Sports is marked

Ljubljana, 23 September - The main ceremony marking Day of Slovenian Sports, a new national holiday, was held in Ljubljana on Wednesday, featuring the first Olympic medallists for Slovenia. President Borut Pahor, the honorary sponsor of the holiday, pointed at the event to the importance of sports for health, the country's promotion and national unity.

Ljubljana
President Borut Pahor addresses the main ceremony to mark the first iteration of Slovenian Day of Sports.
Photo: Bor Slana/STA

Ljubljana
President Borut Pahor addresses the main ceremony to mark the first iteration of Slovenian Day of Sports.
Photo: Bor Slana/STA

The ceremony in Congress Square started with the national anthem, which was played at the Olympics for the first time twenty years ago.

It was in Sydney that rowers Iztok Čop and Luka Špik won the first Olympic gold medal for Slovenia as an independent nation, and the date of their victory, 23 September, has been chosen as the date of the holiday.

On the same day, they were followed up by shooter Rajmond Debevec, who won the gold medal in the men's 50 metre rifle three positions.

The trio attended today's ceremony and were again treated with a powerful applause, as were their coaches at the time - Miloš Janša and Lojze Mikolič.

"Day of Sports is important for our health, which is especially obvious during the coronavirus pandemic. It is also about joy. We who are in sports recreationally know that we cannot live without it," President Pahor said.

He added that the additional reasons for the national holiday were the sport successes which promoted Slovenia, and connectivity. "Sports connect us, and at major sporting events we belong to the same community, wave the same flag."

Pahor is also holding an open day in Presidential Palace and has bestowed the Golden Order of Merit on the Slovenian Athletics Association upon the centenary of organised track and field competitions in Slovenia.

By declaring a national holiday of sports, which is not a work-free day, Slovenia has joined India, Iran, Malaysia, Qatar, Turkey, Thailand and Japan.

Day of Slovenian Sports is also the first day of the European Week of Sport, which is taking place in Slovenia for the sixth time until 30 September. Organisers expect that around 200,000 people will join the activities.

As part of the celebrations, Slovenia was visited on Monday by Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee.

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© STA, 2020