From 27 until 30 June 2013, the city of Zagreb will be hosting the 5 Cities Tournament, the 18th annual sports meeting for young athletes from the Central European cities of Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Ljubljana and, since 2008, Zagreb.
The 5 Cities Tournament includes almost 500 young athletes under the age of 17 competing in six sports: athletics (boys and girls), basketball (girls), football (boys), volleyball (girls), table tennis (boys and girls) and handball (boys). It has long transcended the significance of just a sports event. The bonding among young people from five European cities, spending four days together outside the competition, and also learning about the cultural sights and life in the host city are just as important as achieving good sporting results. Such an approach, which has by now become a tradition, gives a special charm to this wonderful sporting and social event.
The inclusion of Zagreb in this previously "closed" project in 2008, after 12 years of the Four Cities Tournament, was a confirmation of the excellent international collaboration of our city, led by its mayor Milan Bandic, and the successful organisation of numerous sports events in Croatia’s capital. Zagreb was recognised for its sporting, organisational and economic potential, as well as its affiliation to the wider European community, a member of which Croatia will officially become the day after the Tournament has ended.
In the last five years, we have proven that the leaders of Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Ljubljana made a good decision to include us. We have demonstrated our organisational skills and hospitality, and our young athletes have excelled both in their behaviour and sports results. A lot of people still remember the Tournament in Zagreb in 2008, which raised the bar in organisational terms and stimulated all the other cities to be better hosts. We are also proud of the results which our participants have achieved. The Zagreb team has finished first three times: at home, in Vienna in 2010, and in Bratislava in 2011. It also placed second in Budapest in 2009 and third in Ljubljana in 2012, which makes Zagreb the most successful participant in this exceptional event since joining it.
A new cycle of the 5 Cities Tournament will begin in Zagreb at the end of June 2013. We are eager to repeat the success of the 2008 Tournament, both in terms of organisation and sports results. The bonding between the young athletes will be even more pronounced given Croatia's imminent accession to the EU. This European spirit of unity will mark this competition, the last international sporting event before Croatia joins the European family.