The 2023 Games of the Small States of Europe were launched on Monday during a news conference at the Cottonera Sports Complex as the countdown for the biennial Games got started.
This is the third time that Malta is hosting the sports festival for small European countries.
The previous time the Games were on our islands were in 1993 – when the Malta contingent finished with a then record haul of 32 medals – four gold, seven silver and 21 bronze – and ten years later when Team Malta finished with a medal tally of 44 medals – 11 gold, 18 silver and 15 bronze.
The launch took place in a hybrid format and welcomed several Maltese medallists from the 1993 and 2003 editions such as tennis players Chris Gatt and Carol Asciak, sailors Jean Paul Fleri Soler, and Mario Aquilina, and judoka Jackie Xuereb.
The 2023 Games of the Small States of Europe will take place between May 28 and June 3.
The sports programme that will be featured in the 2023 edition includes athletics, basketball, judo, rugby sevens, sailing, shooting, squash, swimming, table tennis and tennis.
Julian Pace Bonello, the president of the Maltese Olympic Committee, said that preparations for this sports bonanza are already under way.
“The Maltese Olympic Committee has been working even more closely with involved federations, ensuring the required support is given and that preparations proceed as smoothly as possible,” Pace Bonello said.
“We hope that these Games will make the country proud, in both the way they will be organised as well as the results achieved. We hope they also serve as a catalyst to inspire young athletes to keep working hard for their dreams.”
On his part, Mark Cutajar, the chief executive officer of SportMalta, said that his organisation is working in perfect synergy with the MOC and the Ministry of Education of Sport to ensure the Games will be a success.
“The Maltese Olympic Committee, SportMalta and the Ministry of Education and Sport are working in perfect synergy towards this event,” Cutajar, who is serving as the GSSE Organising Committee chairperson, said.
“A local organising committee was chosen and besides sport specialists, there are experts in various fields that will ensure that the Games will be a success.
“In the coming months, we will engage with the general public so that the Games will not only will be for athletes and officials taking part but for the society at large.”
On his part, Clifton Grima, the Minister for Education and Sport, said that the government has forked out millions of euros to invest not only in the sports infrastructure but also on the technical preparation of the Maltese athletes to ensure Team Malta can get the best possible result.
“The government is really proud to support the Maltese Olympic Committee in these Games,” Dr Grima said.
“We invested both in infrastructure to increase the number of high-level venues, but for the first time we also invested in human resources.
We passed on €5 million to SportMalta to facilitate the training of athletes, engaging professional coaches and their sport entourage.
“In the build up to the Games and during the week-long festival I look forward to enter in discussions with our sports counterparts in the other eight small countries to strengthen our relationships and provide more opportunities.”
The Maltese Olympic Committee also announced that it will shortly be launching a Games Mascot and Logo Design competition.
The competition calls for the design of a logo and mascot that will be used as part of the Games of the Small States of Europe branding.