Helsinki, July 12, 2015: The fifteenth edition of the World Gymnaestrada, theInternational Gymnastics Federation’s (FIG) flagship event of the non-competitive Gymnastics for All discipline, kicks off with the Opening Ceremony in the Helsinki Olympic Stadium today.
Held once a quadrennial, the World Gymnaestrada is an international Gymnastics festival that attracts the largest number of active participants of any FIG event. Participation is for everybody, regardless of gender, age, race, religion, culture, ability or social standing.
Gathering nearly 21,000 participants from 53 different countries and representing all continents over the course of seven days, the World Gymnaestrada is being held for the first time in Finland, and is, in terms of international participants, the largest event ever to be held in the country.
With its delegation of nearly 4,000 gymnasts, host Finland will field the largest group of World Gymnaestrada participants, with Switzerland just behind at 3,855, followed by Germany with 2,027 and Portugal with 1,059 participants, respectively.
Although groups from all five continents participate, the World Gymnaestrada is especially popular among European Gymnastics enthusiasts, where Gymnastics for All has a longstanding tradition. While Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden have all participated at every single edition since the inaugural event in 1953 in Rotterdam (NED), newcomers for 2015 are Azerbaijan, Belarus, the Dominican Republic, Mozambique, Peru, Puerto Rico and Zimbabwe. All are sending participants to a World Gymnaestrada for the first time.
The official World Gymnaestrada programme includes Opening and Closing Ceremonies, National Evenings, Group Performances, Large Group Performances, City Performances and the FIG Gala.
Specific to the 15th World Gymnaestrada Helsinki 2015 is the “Midnight Sun Special,” which is set for Wednesday, July 15 at the Olympic Stadium and has been incorporated by the Finnish organisers to celebrate the country’s famous “endless summer nights.”
Also new on the programme are the “World Team” and the “National Afternoon” shows. While the World Team performance offers a possibility for gymnasts from all over the world and of all age groups to participate in an international Large Group Programme that is part of the Midnight Sun Special, the National Afternoons complement the National Evenings, showcasing hour-long lasting presentations from specific countries.
Overall, more than 200 hours of Gymnastics performances will be staged in fifteen different venues in Helsinki during the coming week. —- FIG