South Bohemia will welcome the Winter Games for disabled youth for the first time. Athletes will come to Lipno from four countries

Para alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing - these are the sports in which young disabled athletes from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia will compete for the first time this year. The event, called the V4 Winter Games Emil Open, is organised for young people from the Visegrad countries by Emil's Sports, z. s. The aim is to connect children and young people with all types of disabilities, to encourage them to lead an active life and a love of sport.

The four-day winter games, which will begin with an opening ceremony on 25 January, could establish a tradition of the Emil Open winter games in South Bohemia, according to Pavel Zbožínek, president of the games' organising committee. "We are the organisers of the European Disabled Youth Summer Games Emil Open in Brno, which is already in its 11th year. And it was the call for a winter version of them that led us to the decision to try to start a tradition of winter games as well," says Zbožínek. The whole event will kick off on Wednesday with a wine cup hosted by the Mayor of České Budějovice, to which partners, guests and team representatives are invited. A press conference will follow and Wednesday's programme will conclude with the opening ceremony. Everything will take place in the indoor and outdoor areas of the Clarion Hotel. "We appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the Games with international participation and we wish all the participants good luck in their sporting performances," adds Hotel Director Martin Štolka.

Fifty athletes aged 10 to 26 will take part in the Games. On Thursday 26 and Friday 27 January, they will compete in the Lipno Ski Resort, first in the qualification and then in the final competitions. The Games will also include a medal ceremony. Friday's closing ceremony will culminate in a disco. The subsequent accompanying programme will extend until Saturday 28 January. The South Bohemian Zoo in Hluboká nad Vltavou, for example, is taking part. "As a regular participant of the summer Emil Open, I am very happy that Emil is bringing these games to South Bohemia," says their ambassador and golden Paralympian in swimming Arnošt Petráček.

Handicapped athletes will be supported by the entire Visegrad Four

The neighbouring countries have also decided to support the project, with participants from partner organisations Slovak Paralympic Committee, Hungarian Fodisz and Polish TOP BOŁESLAWIEC heading to the Czech Republic. The project is thus co-financed by the governments of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia through Visegrad grants from the International Visegrad Fund, which aims to spread the ideas of sustainable regional cooperation in Central Europe.

The organizers also found support in the South Bohemian Region - the patronage was granted by the Deputy Governor for Sport Pavel Klíma - and in the Statutory City of České Budějovice they received the patronage of the Mayor Dagmar Parmová Škodová. "The support of sport has a long tradition in our metropolis, the proximity of winter ski resorts is a great advantage for us as the organizer. To organize the Emil Open in winter sports disciplines for participants, whom we want to enable unforgettable experiences of sports competitions on snow, is related to the efforts of our city to be a city without barriers, to support children and youth with various types of disabilities so that they can find suitable sports activities and devote themselves to them with love and full commitment," says the mayor.

For a total of 80 participants (athletes with the necessary accompaniment), over 50 volunteers from the students of the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice and the University of Technology and Economics in České Budějovice, whose rectors have taken over the patronage of the Emil Open, will provide facilities and organisation. Support will also be provided by volunteers from the Diocesan Charity of České Budějovice. The general partner of the games is ENERGIE AG BOHEMIA, s. r. o. "Helping is part of our corporate culture and the joy of children is the greatest reward," says Ivan Kafka, representative of the general partner.

The main partners are the Clarion Congress Hotel České Budějovice, which provided accommodation and facilities for the accompanying programme, and the Lipno Ski Resort, where the sports part of the Games will take place. "We have been supporting disabled athletes for a long time. Our Ski Resort provides very good conditions for their activities and thanks to our project "Lipno without barriers" we are trying to offer an ever wider range of services and cooperation in this area. Participation in international competitions was therefore an obvious choice," adds Olga Kneiflová, spokesperson for the Lipno Ski Resort.

Pavel Zbožínek

President of the Games Organizing Committee

mobile: +420 602 720 518

e-mail: zbozinek@emilopen.cz

Emilova sportovní

Emilova sportovní, z.s. is an association founded by the Emil Foundation to support the development of physical activities of the public and people with disabilities, organizing sporting events and establishing sports clubs.

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