The opening of the Nemean Games was declared by Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni. It is the seventh event in the history of the revival of the ancient Panhellenic Games. This year’s Games are in honour of the late Stephen Miller, American professor of classical archaeology, the man who inspired their revival. He dedicated his life and career to the excavations at the archaeological site of Nemea, bringing to light findings of which the most important is the Stadium where the Nemean games took place. On the occasion of the ceremony, the unveiling of the European Cultural Heritage Mark took place, recently awarded to Ancient Nemea by the European Commission as a place of major importance for European culture.
In her greeting, Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni highlighted the symbolic and essential importance of the archaeological site of Nemea being included on the European Cultural Heritage Mark list of the European Union. “This distinction is an additional recognition of Greek cultural heritage’s key position in Europe. The European Heritage Mark aims to promote the idea of a common European cultural identity between the states of Europe, based on historical and cultural elements that have contributed to the creation of European culture. In a period that democracy and freedom are being tested, by awarding the Mark to Ancient Nemea, the European Union reaffirms its belief in the democratic values born in Greece, in the ideals of Greek culture that are the foundations of that of the West. In difficult times, Nemea sends a message of truce and peace. The archaeological site of Nemea, the place where PanHellenic games were held in antiquity, revives the spirit of the Olympic movement in the ancient stadium, bringing to life in an authentic way the ritual, ideas and values of classical athletics, a central element of European culture. Referring to the logic of the development model created for the region by the revival of the Nemean Games, Lina Mendoni said that since 1996, when the institution started, Nemea has succeeded in becoming known throughout the world. She spoke warmly about her friendship with Professor Stephen Miller, about his contribution to Greece, his love for archaeology, for Nemea and its history, which made him a great Greek.
At the opening ceremony, the ritual of the Games was revived in the Temple of Nemeios Zeus with the crowning of Nemea by Ekecheiria (Sacred Truce) and the Lighting of the Flame, followed by a Procession to the Ancient Stadium and the Lighting of the Altar by the Head of the National Football Team Tassos Bakasetas. The ceremony was accompanied by music from the Choir of the Athens Bar Association conducted by Dimitrios Karouzos. The procession also included the Lyceum of Greek Women of Kiato and the Philharmonic of the Municipality of Nemea conducted by Georgia Giannakopoulou.
Welcome speeches at the opening ceremony of the Nemean Games were made by Deputy Minister for Spatial Planning and Urban Environment Nikolaos Tagaras, Deputy Minister for Research and Technology Christos Dimas, Deputy Regional Governor of Corinth Athena Korka, Mayor of Nemea Konstantinos Frousios and President for the Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games Spyros Kyriakos.