ZAGREB, 26 Zagreb 2023 – Under the patronage of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Central State Office for Croats Abroad, the V. Croatian World Games were ceremoniously opened in Zagreb on Tuesday night.
These games represent the largest amateur sports competition where Croatians and their descendants from all over the world participate. The grand opening was preceded by a holy mass at the Church of St. Mother of Freedom in Jarun, presided over by Cardinal Vinko Puljić.
The games are organized by the Croatian World Congress in cooperation with the Organizers Without Borders and will take place from July 24 to 29.
The main objective of the games is to connect young Croatians outside Croatia through sports and cultural events, encouraging them to cherish their Croatian identity, consider returning to their homeland, and promote future economic investments in Croatia.
The event’s partners include the Croatian Tourist Board, the City of Zagreb, the Croatian Heritage Foundation, the Croatian Chamber of Economy, the Croatian Olympic Committee, and the Croatian Radiotelevision. The opening ceremony was graced by high-ranking government officials, diplomats, as well as representatives from social, sports, and cultural life.
In their respective addresses, the acting president of the Croatian World Congress, Igor Lacković, the Head of the Office for Education, Sport, and Youth of the City of Zagreb, Luka Juroš, and the Secretary of the Central State Office for Croats Abroad, Zvonko Milas, extended warm greetings to the participants of the Croatian World Games. The ceremonial opening was officiated by the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Gordan Grlić Radman.
The opening ceremony showcased the rich traditional Croatian culture, which forms the foundation of our identity and is deeply cherished by all Croatians living outside Croatia, as no Croatian community abroad is devoid of the Croatian folk heritage. The hall of the Student Dormitory Stjepan Radić reverberated with Međimurje folk songs, Dalmatian klapa groups, and renditions of iconic Croatian songs such as “Srce vatreno”, “Igraj moja Hrvatska”, and “Vilo moja”.
Traditional folk dances and songs from various regions of Croatia were also performed. However, what makes a project like this truly special are the participants of the Games who, through five days of competitions, will bring love for their homeland, foster new friendships, and create lifelong memories because “One heart is one Croatia.”
After the national anthem, coordinators from 26 participating countries of the Croatian World Games took the stage with their flags, showcasing the power of their shared love for Croatia.
The Games represent a special occasion for strengthening bonds and empowering the Croatian diaspora. This sentiment was emphasized by Igor Lacković, the representative of the Croatian World Congress, as he welcomed all participants, wishing them successful and fair-played games, as well as a joyous time spent with compatriots from around the world.
“You came here because of your passion, because you love sports, but the strongest reason for your presence is the love for Croatia passed down to you by your parents, grandparents, and your families. Let these Games once again demonstrate that the unity of Croats is an endless source that connects us and nourishes us with love for the Croatian nation and our homeland, Croatia,” said Zvonko Milas, the Secretary of the Central State Office for Croats Abroad, during the opening ceremony.
Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Gordan Grlić Radman, highlighted love as the main driving force behind the Games. It is love that has granted us the freedom and a free Croatia today, and it is love that always brings us back to our homeland with our hearts.
At the end of the opening ceremony, everyone joined in singing with the legendary Zaprešić Boys, and “Moja Hrvatska” resounded through the Pauk Hall, where participants and guests danced and sang together late into the night—from the heart. Because there is only one Croatia! There is only one home!