Zagreb, 12 July 2021 - On the occasion of departure of the first large group of athletes to the Tokyo Olympics, the Croatian Olympic Committee (COC) traditionally organized a Farewell ceremony for the Olympians and those who will become Olympians at these Games. The Ceremony was held at the Crystal Hall in Zagreb's hotel Westin, the very one in which at the end of each year the Croatian Olympic Committee proclaims and rewards sports heroes and deserving individuals from the past 365 days.
Among the female and male athletes - travelers to Tokyo - who left on 12 July, there were male and female representatives of four sports: Damir Martin, Valent and Martin Sinković (Rowing), Šime and Mihovil Fantela and Elena Vorobeva (Sailing), Barbara Matić, Karla Prodan and Ivana Maranić (Judo), Toni Kanaet, Matea Jelić, Ivan Šapina, Kristina Tomić (Taekwondo). Other Olympians travelling in the upcoming days, such as karateka Ivan Kvesić or shooters Josip Glasnović and Petar Gorša, also attended the Ceremony. They were accompanied by their coaches and members of the Croatian Olympic Committee’s Mission. Earlier that morning, sailor Tonči Stipanović and coach Jozo Jakelić traveled to Tokyo. The ceremony was also attended by numerous sports and socio-political dignitaries: Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac, Representative of the President of the Republic Željko Jovanović, Ambassador of Japan to Croatia Her Excellency Misako Kaji, State Secretary for Sports Tomislav Družak and others.
The President of the NOC of Croatia Zlatko Mateša, acting as a host, stated in his welcome speech:
- The Olympics will still be held, unusual and challenging, but we've been through worse, so we'll manage even now. Be ready for different Games, without socializing and spectators in the stands, without contact with the media as it was on the previous ones. Enjoy the Games as they are, they are a product of the times we live in.
The Head of the Croatian Olympic Committee’s Mission to Tokyo Damir Šegota highlighted that in Tokyo we will be represented by 59 female and male athletes in 16 sports (plus two substitutes - in Water Polo and Table Tennis). Sports Television Editor-in-Chief Jura Ozmec presented all our Olympic candidates in a short documentary. Special additions from the series "cultural challenges" showed Snježana Pejčić and Marin Čilić making sushi, Tin Srbić and Ana Đerek making tea in the traditional Japanese way and how the Sinković brothers make origami.
After that, Damir Martin, Ivan Kvesić, Barbara Matić and Toni Kanaet spoke in an optimistic tone. They all confirmed great preparation for the Olympics. While Barbara Matić stressed her pride in "bringing Judo home", Kanaet was the bravest in terms of high expectations, saying that all four Taekwondo representatives expect medals in Tokyo. The Fantela brothers expressed optimism for the Olympic medal, noting that of around twenty crews - at least six of them count to stand on the winning pedestal.
Japanese Ambassador to Croatia, Her Excellency Misako Kaji, continued in the same tone. On the occasion of celebrating 100 days to Tokyo along with the promotion of the Olympic collection, she announced optimistically that Croatia will set a new record in the number of medals won in Tokyo - as many as 15. She remained consistent in this optimism and has now said in Croatian:
- I will cheer for you here from Zagreb and I am looking forward to welcoming you with a lot of won medals.
Minister of Sports and Tourism Nikolina Brnjac wished the Olympians a lot of success and happiness, above all to achieve their own ambitions and wishes, for which they prepared in the circumstances that were certainly not easy.
At the end of the gathering, another traditional gesture took place. After the Ambassador of the Croatian Olympic Committee's campaign "Towards the Sun", world taekwondo bronze medalist Kristina Tomić read the Fair Play Declaration, all the present athletes signed the same at the end of the Ceremony.
Thanks to the Sports Television (SPTV), sports fans throughout Croatia could have watched live the Croatian Olympians’ Farewell ceremony. (NOC of Croatia/VK)