Thousands Descend on Armenia for Pan-Armenian Games
YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The third Pan-Armenian Games opened on Saturday in Yerevan, uniting 1,500 athletes and 5,000 guests from 80 cities around the world.
The festive opening ceremony began with the lighting of the torch at the ancient Pagan temple of Garni; it was then carried to Yerevan’s Hrazdan stadium where the small flame ignited a big torch to kick-off the Third Olympic Games of worldwide Armenians.
Over 1,000 entertainers performed at the ceremonies; the audience was treated to dance performances by 60 solo dancers and a supporting cast of 700 dancers who performed to the music of young composer Vahe Hayrapetyan’s opera-ballet Morning Twilight. The main characters of the performance were seven Armenian pagan gods including Vahagn, Tir, Anahit, and Astghik. The ceremony concluded with a composition by Aram Khachaturyan in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Held every other year, the games are designed to foster relationships between Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora. The largest delegations come from the United States, Iran, Georgia and Russia, organizers said. “This is another occasion to bring Armenians of the world together, in their homeland, so that they can communicate more closely with each other and know about their community,” said Armenia’s Ambassador to Mexico and Cuba Ashot Melik-Shahnazarian, whose idea it was to originally organize the games; he serves as vice-president of the World Committee of Pan Armenian Games.
During the games, athletes compete for medals in ten sporting events including soccer, mini-soccer, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, swimming, athletics, chess and badminton, which was added this year.
Competitions will take place not only in Yerevan, but also in sport complexes located in Artashat, Abovian, and Ashtarak. “The level of athletics in not advanced, as there are no professionals at the Games, but amateurs who come to see their homeland, said press secretary of the Games Yury Alexanyan. “However, our goal is to make them more inspired and exciting to make the Games more competitive . . . ”
Organizers will have emergency ambulances, security, transportation, and communication services consistently on hand at stadiums and in sport complexes to ensure the smooth running of the Games. Great attention has also been paid to the closing ceremonies, which promise to be full of surprises.
The Games are sponsored by the Armenian government and by other sponsors; they will conclude on August 24.