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Rovaniemi receives European City of Sport 2020 award

11/18/2019 10:37 AM

The City of Rovaniemi has been awarded the title of European City of Sport 2020 by the ACES Europe. While a lot of development work has already been done in Rovaniemi in the field of sports and exercise, the city has its sights firmly set beyond the horizon. In fact, rather than resting on its laurels, this recognition will spur Rovaniemi on to achieve its goals regarding sports and wellbeing services.

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The City of Rovaniemi has been awarded the title of European City of Sport 2020 by the European Capitals and Cities of Sport Federation (ACES Europe). ACES Europe representatives Alberto Bichi and Hugo Alonso visited Rovaniemi 21-23 October 2019. During the visit, the evaluation team checked out the sporting opportunities in the region and met representatives from the city and local educational institutions, sports clubs, and businesses.

The final evaluation was carried out using the ACES criteria, which considered the region’s sport infrastructure, access to sports facilities, and future development and investments. The evaluation process lasted about two weeks. The ACES awards will be officially handed out in Brussels in December.

The Federation awards titles to the European Capital, City, Community, and Town of Sport each year. Rovaniemi is the first Nordic city to be awarded the European City of Sport title. According to ACES Europe, Rovaniemi is an excellent example of a city in which sport promotes health, good community relations, education, and mutual respect – these are also the main objectives of ACES Europe itself.

"One of the strategic priorities of the last ten years has been to strengthen the role of physical activity and sport in the development and profile of the city. It’s fantastic to receive international recognition for this work”, says Mayor of Rovaniemi, Esko Lotvonen.

Almost 600 sports and physical activity sites in Rovaniemi
As part of the evaluation process, the city compiled a promotional brochure outlining Rovaniemi's investments in sport and physical activity, as well as the city’s future development priorities in these areas. 

Rovaniemi has almost 600 indoor and outdoor sports and physical activity sites, most of which are maintained by the city. Approximately EUR 5 million is spent on the maintenance of these venues each year. The annual budget for the city’s sports and leisure services is approximately EUR 6.5 million, representing 1.5% of the total city budget. On average, annual investments have been worth EUR 0.5-1 million. The largest investment in sports and physical activity in the last decade has been a central sport field. 

While a lot of development work has already been done in Rovaniemi in the field of sports and exercise, the city has its sights firmly set beyond the horizon. In fact, rather than resting on its laurels, this recognition will spur Rovaniemi on to achieve its goals regarding sports and wellbeing services. "Rovaniemi has not yet achieved its full potential of being the perfect sports city. With this recognition, we hope to see further momentum in the development of our sports culture”, says Pekka Hämäläinen, the city's sports director. 

Messieurs Alonso and Bichi also underline the fact that celebrating the achievements to-date is only the first stage of the process. This recognition is going to be of great benefit from the perspective of, for example, strategic development. The association also opens up access to an international network, the members of which are able to learn from each other’s good practices. It is also important to set concrete targets for development work.

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ACES Europe representatives Alberto Bichi (left) and Hugo Alonso visited Rovaniemi 21-23 October 2019. The City of Rovaniemi’s Director of Sports, Pekka Hämäläinen is also pictured (centre).

 The aim of this work is to promote physical activity and wellbeing from the grassroots to the global level

ACES Europe is a non-profit association based in Brussels, Belgium. It annually acknowledges and rewards the work done by European cities and communities to promote physical activity and sport. 

The twin aim of the association is to promote wellbeing throughout Europe by highlighting the activities, initiatives, and success stories of actors in this field and to support the good work done by European towns and cities through cooperation. The Federation is also involved in organising the European Week of Sport.

"Every euro spent on promoting physical activity saves around 15 euros from the cost of health services in the long-term. The cost of immobility is enormous on a global scale. For this reason, we want to promote sports at the grassroots level — everyone has a right to take part in physical activity”, sums up Alberto Bichi of ACES Europe.

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