Zagreb, July 12, 2021 – On the occasion of the departure of the first large group of athletes to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Croatian Olympic Committee (HOO) has organised its traditional farewell ceremony.
The ceremony was held in the Crystal Hall of the Westin Hotel in Zagreb, the same place where at the annual Croatian Olympic Committee awards are held.
Among the athletes traveling to Tokyo who traveled on July 12, were representatives of four sports: Damir Martin, Valent and Martin Sinković (rowing), Šime and Mihovil Fantela and Elena Vorobeva (sailing), Barbara Matić, Karla Prodan and Ivana Maranić (judo), Toni Kanaet, Matea Jelić, Ivan Šapina, Kristina Tomić (taekwondo).
Other Olympians who will travel in the coming days were also present, such as Ivan Kvesić (karate) and shooters Josip Glasnović and Petar Gorša. They were accompanied by their coaches and members of the HOO Mission. Earlier in the morning, sailor Tonči Stipanović and coach Jozo Jakelić traveled to Tokyo.
The ceremony was also attended by numerous dignitaries: Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac, envoy of the President of the Republic Željko Jovanović, Ambassador of Japan to Croatia HE E. Misako Kaji, State Secretary for Sports Tomislav Družak and others.
The role of the host was played by the President of the Croatian Olympic Committee, Zlatko Mateša, who stated in his welcome speech:
“It will still be the Olympic Games, unusual and challenging, but we have been through worse things, so we will manage even now. Be ready for a different Games, without socialising and spectators in the stands, without contact with the media as it was in the previous ones. Enjoy the Games as they are, they are a product of the times we live in.”
The Head of the HOO Mission in Tokyo, Damir Šegota, reiterated that Croatia will be represented in Tokyo by 59 athletes in 16 sports (plus two substitutes – in water polo and table tennis). The editor-in-chief of Sports Television, Jura Ozmec, presented the Olympic candidates in a short documentary. In special articles from the series “Cultural Challenges” you could see how Snježana Pejčić and Marin Čilić make sushi, Tin Srbić and Ana Đerek make tea in the traditional Japanese way and how the Sinković brothers make origami.
Then Damir Martin, Ivan Kvesić, Barbara Matić and Toni Kanaet spoke in an optimistic tone. They all stated good preparation for the Olympics. While Barbara Matić expressed pride in the “return of judo to its home”, Kanaet was the bravest for the high expectations, saying that all four representatives of taekwondo are expecting medals in Tokyo. The Fantela brothers also expressed optimism for an Olympic medal, noting that out of about twenty crews, at least six are counting on a podium finish.
The Japanese ambassador to Croatia, N.J., continued in the same tone. E. Misako Kaji, who optimistically announced during the celebration of 100 days to Tokyo with the promotion of the Olympic collection that Croatia will set a new record in the number of medals won in Tokyo – as many as 15. She remained consistent in that optimism and now said in Croatian: “I will cheer for you here from Zagreb and I am looking forward to welcoming you with a lot of medals won.”
The Minister of Sports and Tourism, Nikolina Brnjac, wished the Olympians a lot of success and happiness, and that they first of all realiSe their own ambitions and wishes, for which they prepared in not easy circumstances.
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At the end of the gathering, another traditional gesture. After the ambassador of the HOO’s campaign “Towards the Sun”, bronze medalist from the World Championships in taekwondo Kristina Tomić read the Declaration of Fair Play, all the athletes present signed it after the ceremony.
Thanks to Sports Television (SPTV), the farewell of Croatian Olympians could be seen live by sports fans throughout Croatia.