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19850614_Reflections on the First Games For Small Nations

    San Marino, aided by the International Olympic Committe and particularly by the Italian Olympic Comittee, did not spend millions to organise what is wrongly referred to as the 'mini-olympics': perhaps just the equivalent of a quarter of a million Maltese pounds or liri. But then again they hardly received anything in return as even admission to the sporting activities were free.
    Serravalle Stadium greeted 8,000 spectators for the opening ceremony. It was the biggest crowd ever housed at the Stadium, but then there are only 20,114 inhabitants. And the 'small nations' taking part were from Iceland, Cyprus, Andorra, Malta, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Monaco. Eight small nations involved in athletics, cycling, basketball, shooting, swimming and weightlifting with all the judges of Italian origin.
    No one thought that the athletes present were capable of breaking any records - olympics or world - and hardly any emphasis was made on nationality, when at first it was thought that one of the conditions of participation was that the participants had to be born in the country they are representing or had actually lived in that particular country for the last five years.
    In the true meaning of sport, the Games at San Marino proved to be a Symbol of friendship, with a real accent on the oft-abused expression about the 'brotherhood of man'.
    Accordingly the organisers presented their own mascot 'Rino'. with the republic's national colours. The games attracted about 400 athletes, while the facilities offered fitted in with the requirements. In fact the IOC sent over Arthur Takac as its official observer and judge to evaluate the situation. The technical consultant for ten Olympiads was pleased with what he saw.
    256 competitors.
    Cyprus had the highest number of competitors at San Marino, paraiding 64, Luxembourg had 52, San Marino the hosts with a population less than Balletta, Sliema or Hamrun had 46. Andorra which is hardly bigger than the above mentioned Maltese cities paraded 38. Malta had 21, iceland 18, Monaco and Liechtenstein ten each. Of a total of 256 competitors there were 55 males.
    We competed in basketball, shooting, weightlifting, cycling and Judo.
    While mentioring the fact that the Islandic group of 18 carried off more medals than any of the rest, it was evident that despite our continuous participation, we seem to ignore the basic elementaries.
    For example we had competitors weighing-in who were heavier than the limit applied to each entry. This should never happen in international competition and well do the judoaks know it.
    Belated but necessary
    Perhaps the Games did not catch on with many even though the opening even though the opening ceremony was transmitted via satellite by the American stations NBC and ABC. Meanwhile there was the Japanese television Mandeon V.P., Rai screened the closing ceremony and obviously the local San Marino Teleromagna  made sure of screening all the daily events.
    The new Serravalle  Stadium has a capacity for 20,000, but was enver more than half full. The Olympic flame was not brought from the city of Olympia, and did not raise millions in cash; however it was lit in the Congress Palace on the eve of the opening day, and transported to the Stadium on the morrow. 
    It will be wrong to judge these games in the some light that governs the real Olympics, even if these mini-Olympics attracted a few VIPs worth mentioning like Antonio Samaranch, Promo Nebiolo, Franco Carraro, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Princess Nora of Liechtenstein. One would have though that Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie of Monaco could have bothered to be there considering the fact that the next edition will be staged at Monaco's super (better called) mega-Stadium!
    But for the Maltese, these Games, which after all originated from this end, could easily be a target for our youngsters, provided we plan seriously on a long term policy. One feels that the next edition should include more activities and perhaps the local Olympic Committee could publish the official report on our participation. We won a medal: a bronze, and that was the sum total of all our efforts.
    It is not fair to criticise our participation, as we finally managed to achieve our first partial success, however we will err badly if we start thinking of the Games as ones which offer top level standard. What should be more challenging is the fact that we were last among the small nations; something which we can at least avoid. We know the standard of performance shown at San Marino and should aim for a more honourable participation. as some of the small nations included were invariably much small than us.