for the Games prepared entertainers to welcome
1,326 amateur sportsmen.
Just a few hours remain before the torch is lit
at the ancient pagan temple of Garni to symbolize
the beginning of the Third PanArmenian Games.
The torch will be lit tomorrow morning, August
16, and dozens of sportsmen escorted by a guard
of honor will carry the torch in relay, covering
the 20 kilometers from Garni to Yerevan.
And at 8 p.m. there will be a festive opening
ceremony during which the torch together with
the flag of Armenia and the PanArmenian Olympic
flag will be carried into Yerevan's Hrazdan stadium
where the small flame will ignite a big torch
to throw light on the Third Olympic Games of worldwide
About 1,326 men and women amateur sportsmen from
more than 75 cities around the globe are in Armenia
for a week to test their skills against their
opposing teams of compatriots. About 5,000 guests
are expected for the Games.
In just four years since the First PanArmenian
Games of 1999, the competition has gained a big
reputation among Armenian communities. The Second
PanArmenian Games took place in 2001, coinciding
with celebrations of the 1700th anniversary of
Armenia's adoption of Christianity as the state
"This is another occasion to bring Armenians
of the world together in their homeland so that
they can communicate more closely with each other
and know about their country," says Ashot
Melik-Shahnazarian, 71, who had the idea to organize
Melik-Shahnazarian is Armenia's ambassador to
Mexico and Cuba (working in Yerevan through the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs ) and vice-president
of the World Committee of Pan-Armenian Games.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Vartan Oskanian is
president of the committee.
"Let Armenians come and see their homeland.
Let them see that this country lives and blooms
day in day out and that construction works are
in process here," Melik-Shahnazarian says.
"After the last games it was decided to conduct
the games every four years, but, after numerous
requests we broke our rules just on this occasion."
Badminton is being added for the first time to
the program of the Games in addition to nine sport
events from the previous competitions: football,
mini football, basketball, volleyball, tennis,
table tennis, athletics, chess and swimming.
Competition will take place in Yerevan and in
the sport complexes of Artashat, Abovian and Ashtarak.
director Ashughyan says more than 1,000
entertainers will perform in opening ceremonies.
Yury Alexanyan, press secretary of the Games,
assures that highly experienced referees will
oversee the contests, a point of contention in
some matches during the last competition. But
he believes contestants need to raise their game
"The level of sport is not high enough here
as, mainly, there are no professionals at the
Games but amateurs who come to see their homeland,"
he says. "However, our goal is to make them
more inspired and excited so that the Games could
be more competitive and they could really struggle
for their points."
Organizers will ensure emergency ambulances,
security, transportation and communication services
will always be on hand at stadiums and in sport
complexes to ensure the smooth running of the
Games. Great attention has also been paid to the
opening and closing ceremonies, which, like the
last Games, promise to be full of surprises.
"We attach great importance to opening and
closing ceremonies, during which new performances
are shown every time and more than 1,000 artists
perform," says Hrachia Ashughyan, who is
art director of the festivities.
The opening ceremony audience will see a performance
based on three pagan historical themes based on
pagan stories with performances by 60 solo dancers
and a supporting cast of 700 dancers. With music
from young composer Vahe Hayrapetyan's opera-ballet
Morning Twilight, it is being staged by choreographers
Norair Mehrabyan and Vanush Khanamiryan. The main
characters of the performance are seven Armenian
pagan gods including Vahagn, Tir, Anahit, and
This will be followed by sports performances,
including theatrical modern rhythmic gymnastics,
acrobatics and the martial art, wushu. The Dance
of Tulips also promises to be spectacular, with
girls dressed in red covering the grass to create
an effect of a field of flowers.
The ceremony will finish with compositions of
renowned Armenian composer Aram Khachaturyan in
honor of the 100th anniversary of the musician's
birth. Then the celebrations will give way to