Stadion Slaski set for key role in 2023 European Games masterplan

Chorzów’s Stadion Śląski is poised to become a key venue for the 2023 European Games after the Polish region of Silesia pledged its support to the staging of the third edition of the multi-sport event.

Organised by the European Olympic Committees (EOC), the 2023 European Games was awarded to the Małopolska region and the city of Kraków in June 2019. Silesia’s fresh backing comes after an EOC delegation travelled to Poland for a four-day visit over the weekend. The trip involved meetings with the Polish Government, the Polish Olympic Committee, the organising cities and the Polish Tourism Organisation, as well as visits to a number of facilities.

Silesia’s involvement paves the way for athletics to join the sports programme for the Games, with Stadion Śląski lined up as the host venue. The 55,211-capacity stadium underwent a major redevelopment that finished in 2017. Part of the improvements was the replacement of a speedway track with an athletics track.

The latest meetings came amid reports in recent weeks of a funding dispute for the Games, with local officials seeking assurances from the Polish Government. During the meetings, Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin expressed his full support for the Games.

He said: “On behalf of the Government, I would like to confirm all the declarations made so far, which include the support for the organisers in the field of logistics and projects related to the needed facilities.

“I am glad that Silesia wants to co-organise the third European Games, proving that athletics, a discipline that is very popular and successful in Poland, can now be included in the programme. The Stadion Śląski, which is a national facility, can host the best athletes from Europe in 2023.”

Ten sports are already confirmed for the 2023 Games, with the programme set to be finalised in the coming weeks. However, EOC secretary general Raffaele Pagnozzi noted that the Games will be different from their first two editions in Baku, Azerbaijan, and Minsk, Belarus, emphasising the goal of staging a cost-effective, sustainable event.

Pagnozzi said: “The key word is flexibility. With Baku 2015 and Minsk 2019, we had two very different editions and two different operational budgets. Our goal is not to simply replicate what has been done in the past with a fixed model, rather to adapt to the needs of the hosts to deliver a memorable and successful Games.”

The Games are also being looked upon as a means of boosting tourism in Poland in the wake of COVID-19. Chair of the European Games Coordination Commission, Hasan Arat, added: “The European Games in 2023 will be an opportunity for Poland and for Europe in general to continue the economic recovery after the COVID-19 crisis. We hope that the Games will stimulate tourism for Poland and result in a positive economic impact.

“We are so glad that the next generation in Poland will benefit from the legacy the Games will leave to the country, in terms of facilities, hosting events and the promotion of their country globally via media coverage. The previous editions of the Games were broadcast in 196 countries and territories with audiences of around two billion viewers and we expect this to grow for the Games in 2023.”

Image: DzejKej86/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size