The opening of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris is 500 days away. The Lithuanian sports community and the French Embassy in Lithuania celebrated this COUNTDOWN with a festive event.
The event, organized by the National Olympic Committee of Lithuania (LNOC), the Embassy of France in Lithuania and the Lithuanian Paralympic Committee (LPC), brought together famous athletes and students from Vilnius Jonas Basanavičius Pro-Gymnasium and Vilnius International French Lyceum to share their experience. Later, mixed teams of children from both schools played demo basketball matches.
Perseverance and determination, respect for others and team spirit are at the heart of sport and the values of the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games. The participation in this event of Olympic and Paralympic representatives, as well as mixed girls’ and boys’ teams reflects the French and Lithuanian commitment to inclusive sport.
After a presentation by Kasparas Šileikis, Director of Olympic Education at the LNOC, on Olympism and the importance of Olympic values, Olympic Vice-Champion Saulius Ritter and a representative of paralympic sport, European Vice-Champion in track and field athletics Danas Sodaitis shared their experience.
“The Olympic Games are an event where spectators see the results of the athletes’ hard work, but the preparation process itself is often invisible, takes a very long time and requires a lot of effort. Now, 500 days away, as the Olympic qualifiers are already starting, discipline, determination and patience are crucial qualities. Therefore, knowing the hard road the athletes are going through, I wish them to stay strong, while the feeling of representing your country at the Olympics makes all the hard work worthwhile,” said former rower Saulius Ritter at the event.
The Paris Summer Olympic Games will take place from 26 July to 11 August 2024. 10,500 athletes will compete in 32 sports and 48 disciplines, which will be held on a parity basis for the first time in history. The Paris Paralympic Games will take place from 28 August to 8 September 2024, with a record number of sports (22) and events (549) registered.
“This sporting event is also a celebration of solidarity, equality and inclusion. It is a celebration of our shared values, which France and Lithuania represent at home and in the world,” stressed Laurence Bernardi, Chargé d’Affaires of the French Embassy in Lithuania.
“For the athletes, the Olympic Games are the culmination of four years of their hard work; therefore, although 500 days may seem like a long time for other people, as for athletes, this countdown makes their hearts beat faster. The qualifying competitions are about to begin, therefore we are looking forward to the first Lithuanian representatives at the Paris Olympics, which, I have no doubt, will be one of the most spectacular events in the history of the Olympic Games,” LNOC Vice President Naglis Nasvytis said in his welcome address, adding that he expects a spectacular event, and that Paris might become a dream coming true for many athletes.
Addressing the audience, President of the Lithuanian Paralympic Committee Mindaugas Bilius welcomed the growing attention to sport for people with disabilities and stressed that the opportunity to take part in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games is the biggest dream of every athlete, and that when participating in the qualifying competitions and preparing for events, the 500 days will pass by in a blink.
“We are delighted that the Olympic and Paralympic Games have been held closely one after another for several decades. It’s not just about symbolism, it’s about building a really inclusive and better world. The heroes of Olympic and Paralympic Games encourage millions of people across the planet to dream big and to reach one’s goals, whatever the obstacles. Every day, Lithuanian paralympic athletes exercise to the maximum to qualify for the Paris Games and make their dreams come true, helping millions around the world to believe in them,” said the President of the Lithuanian Paralympic Committee.
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