Tarragona welcomes first athletes on eve of Mediterranean Games
Participants begin arriving in Mediterranean Village on Wednesday, with major sporting event to start on Friday
After months of preparations, Catalonia’s southern city of Tarragona began welcoming the first athletes who will be participating in the 18th edition of the Mediterranean Games. The first participants began arriving on Wednesday in the Mediterranean Village, located in the PortAventura theme park, which from June 22 to July 1 will accommodate the almost 4,000 elite athletes taking part in the Games in its three hotels.
The Village, which also boasts a gym, medical center, multi-denominational chapel, supermarket and leisure areas for the athletes, housed in the converted Convention Center, even has its own ‘mayor’, the Olympic race walker, Jesús García Bragado. The veteran Spanish athlete is charged with ensuring the smooth day-to-day running of the Village, which will be exclusively reserved for the participants, with the police in charge of security.
The first international delegations of athletes started arriving on Wednesday, with the rest expected on Thursday, so that everyone is in place for the inauguration of the Games at 9pm on Friday. Also staying in the Village will be hundreds of Games officials, including referees, judges and committee members. As the Village is 10 kilometers from the Mediterranean Ring, where many of the events will take place, the athletes will be transferred by bus.
Torra to inaugurate Mediterranean Ring
The preparations for the Games were marked by setbacks, which even led to the event begin postponed a year. In the end, however, everything has been completed on time, albeit with little margin to spare. For example, the finishing touches on the Mediterranean Ring, the complex containing the athletics track, the 50-meter swimming pool, and the 5,000-seater Sports Palace went on until the last minute, with Catalan president Quim Torra due to officially open the stadium on Wednesday evening.
Yet everything is now ready for Friday’s opening ceremony in the 14,500-seater stadium of local football club Nàstic, which has been spruced up especially for the occasion. As the event’s official flag-bearer, Andorran swimmer Mònica Ramírez will lead the parade of the more than 3,600 athletes from 26 countries who are taking part. While Spanish president Pedro Sánchez and King Felipe VI will be in attendance, it is still not confirmed whether president Quim Torra will also be at the ceremony.
150,000 spectators expected at the Games
Between June 22 and July 1, the elite athletes will compete in 33 different events taking place in Tarragona and 15 other venues in Catalonia. A total of some 150,000 spectators are expected to attend the Games, along with hundreds of Games officials and committee members, and 1,000 journalists from media outlets all over the world. The Games can also count on some 3,500 volunteers who will give their time to help ensure that everything goes off without a hitch.