Ahead of the first chapter of The Match Europe v USA, some of the politicians and leading athletes from both Team Europe and Team USA spoke of their excitement of the much-awaited fixture which takes place at the Dinamo National Olympic Stadium in Minsk, Belarus on 9-10 September.
“It is a really historic event,” said European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen. “There has never been a match between Europe and the United States before. When I came up with this proposal at the World Championships in 2015, there was ‘yes, yes’ all around the table at the first time - the US also understood the value of having something like this.”
President Hansen and IAAF President Sebastian Coe were received by Belarus Republic President Alexandr Lukashenko ahead of The Match. The European Athletics President gave his sincere thanks to President Lukashenko for his support of The Match.
President Hansen also paid tribute to the Belarus Athletics Federation and the Belarusian authorities for their pivotal role and assiduous work in staging the first instalment of The Match. He presented Belarus Athletic Federation Vadim Devyatovskiy and the Belarus Sport Minister Sergei Kovalchuk with plaques of recognition.
President Hansen's sentiments were firmly echoed by the Chief of Sport Performance at USATF Duffy Mahoney who believes this dual match has all the right ingredients to generate a buzz as well as providing a further incentive to Team USA athletes.
“Svein Arne is correct - this is a historic match,” said Mahoney. “We have a history of great matches such as the famous USA versus USSR Match where we put 60,000 people in the Colosseum [in Los Angeles] in those years. They were truly exciting - and scoring and waving the flag is what our sport needs.
“Putting on an event of this scope is not a simple undertaking - this is the biggest team we send out. We have four athletes per event here so this is the largest team we send out. This gives the opportunity for more of our athletes to compete on the world stage, for visibility, to win prize money and we look forward to a tremendous competition,” he added.
Belarus Athletic Federation President Devyatovskiy expanded on the sizeable undertaking of arranging The Match and added he expects the Dinamo Stadium - which holds just over 20,000 spectators - to be near to full capacity for the next two nights.
“We are very proud, we are part of this huge event. We have dreamt about these days and we have worked very hard for everything to be fine and we are looking forward to the competition.
“Thank you to Svein Arne for giving us this big responsibility and I hope we will see a really historic match at a high level. For sure, the best athletes like Mariya Lasitskene, Ramil Guliyev and Ekaterini Stefanidi are here and we know you will put on a great competition and I am sure the stadium will be full,” he said.