The wholehearted support of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) to the institution of the Panhellenic Sports and Cultural Games of Oceania hosted successfully in Melbourne, were conveyed by SAE President Stefanos P. Tamvakis in the opening of the games which he characterized as unique event that embraces Omogenia and Youth in particular.
“The sports ideal, our cultural heritage and the expatriates met in Sydney in 2005, in Adelaide in 2007 and this year in Melbourne to honor the Greeks worldwide,” Tamvakis stressed. “The Games remind us that Greece, specifically Athens, was the first place where sports were considered to be a social and cultural good of a pedagogical nature.
SAE strongly supports this initiative expressing its warm thanks to the SAE Oceania and Far East Region and its Regional Coordinator and dear friend, George Angelopoulos, the active Coordinating Council and all those who have contributed with enthusiasm to the success of this effort,” “all these wouldn’t be possible without the constant encouragement on behalf of the Australian government and society which SAE wishes to warmly thank once again.”
The strengthening of relations between the Greek-Australians, the young generation in particular, was underlined by SAE Oceania and Far East Regional Coordinator George Angelopoulos who thanked the governments of the State of Victoria and Greece for their moral and material support to the Games.
A very special moment was the presentation of a 60,000 AUD cheque by Angelopoulos and Tamvakis to Whittlesea Mayor Mary Lalios, who is of Greek descent, for the construction of a Community Center in the region ravaged by the devastating wildfires of last February. The money came from the Expatriate Emergency Fund created to support the victims of the wildfires in Greece.
The Games were formally opened by State of Victoria Sports Minister James Merlino in a special event held in a central Melbourne hotel. In attendance were the Regional Coordinating Council members, Greece’s Consul General to Melbourne Christos Salamanis, High Commissioner of Cyprus in Australia Ioannis Iakovou, Australian and Greek-Australian MPs and Senators, Greek-Australian media representatives, representatives of expatriate associations and many members of the Greek-Australian community.
In their messages, Australian Premier Kevin Rudd and State of Victoria Premier John Brumby both hailed the contribution of the Greek-Australians.
Those present in the special event were impressed by the reenactment of sports that were included in the ancient Panhellenic Games, the reenactment of Pangratio in particular. The opening ceremony was completed with the lighting of the flame of the Games by young women (Kores) accompanied by young men dressed as ancient Greek warriors.
For the record, during the games hundreds of young men and women did their best competing in various sports, displaying a spirit of fair play and proudly highlighting their Greek origin.
During his stay in Melbourne, from where he departed today for Greece, the president of SAE attended an event hosted by the Association of Greeks from Egypt in Melbourne where he was warmly received by his fellow Egyptiotes with whom he always meets every time he visits Australia.