Between 25 June and 6 July, the Algerian city of Oran will be the capital of Mediterranean sports. The city is hosting the 19th edition of the Mediterranean Games, and in the “Road to Oran” series, euronews covers how the city is preparing for the event.
Nicknamed “The Shining” (Oran in Arabic), Oran is a city of a thousand faces, with Spanish, Ottoman and French influences. A metropolis that is moving towards modernity, but, nevertheless, does not forget its history that spans thousands of years … rich in tradition and culture.
It is an ideal place to host a large-scale sporting event, as the governor (or wali) of Oran, Said Saïoud, shows us:
– Oran is a very famous city in the western part of Algeria nationally. It is a city that has seen a lot of development in recent times. The western population is very receptive and everyone is preparing for the Mediterranean Games to be held in the best conditions and to make the 19th edition the best organized so far. So this will be a holiday in the Oran region and also a holiday in Algeria.
Everyone is excited
One special feature of the city is the hustle and bustle of the sunset. Especially (but not only) during Ramadan, walking the streets at night is a real experience. People fill the streets to shop at boutiques that are open late at night, to have tea on the balcony, to enjoy life.
Every Orani we met was particularly enthusiastic. The approach of this great festival of Mediterranean sports is also causing a great response.
– The whole world will discover Oran, it is a very interesting city that is open to everyone,” a man who works in a barber shop told us.
– We are all looking forward to these games, and it is a pleasure and an honor to have Oran in the spotlight in the entire Mediterranean basin – said a passerby on the street.
The Mediterranean Games were first held in 1951 in Alexandria, Egypt: since then they have been held every four years in one of the countries of the region. It was already organized by Algeria in the capital in 1975. The most recent edition was hosted in 2018 in Tarragona, Spain.
This year, 6,361 athletes from 26 countries will be brought together. They will compete in 244 events and 24 sports. Among them are football, athletics, cycling and sailing, as well as bowling and table tennis.
The competitions will be held in 22 locations in and around Oran: some were built for the occasion, others completely renovated.
– The Algerian state has made extraordinary efforts regarding the high-quality implementation of facilities, as well as the rehabilitation and modernization of existing infrastructure, Yassine Seyafi, director of youth and sports in Oran, told Euronews. – I think that Algeria will be able to organize any international event in a short time.
Mediterranean Village, Home of Athletes
A Mediterranean village was built in the eastern part of the city. A real new neighborhood in Oran, covering 36 hectares, equivalent to 55 football fields, it will be home to nearly 4,300 people, athletes and team officials.
It is divided into three main areas: a residential area, an international area, and a volunteer area.
Equipped with various infrastructures and facilities, which are 5 gyms, 4 restaurants, medical facilities, and several sports fields for training. Fouad Issa, director of public institutions in Oran, explained to Euronews that all amenities are available to give residents an impeccable place to live.
The new Olympic stadium
The jewel of the city is the new Olympic Stadium with a capacity of 40,000 spectators, which was completed in 2019. It will host football matches, athletics and of course the opening and closing ceremonies of the games. The stadium also has a hybrid flooring, which is a mixture of natural grass and synthetic fibres.
It was important for the Organizing Committee (COJM- Comité d’Organisation des Jeux Méditerranéeens) to give the athletes and the public a completely new infrastructure. As Mohamed Aziz Derwaz, Games Commissioner and President of COJM, explained to us, they will be an important legacy for Oran:
– A project of this scale does not satisfy the existing infrastructure, and the specificity of the Games is to leave a legacy for the population and the national sports movement through this wonderful investment.