- The world's first orienteering event open to civilians was held near Oslo in 1897. With Norway as the host nation of WOC 2019 orienteering comes home!
The words belong to Estonian IOF President Leo Haldna when he declared the 36th World Orienteering Championship opened at Sarpsborg City Square Monday night.
In his speech he hoped for both expected and unexpected winners, as well as enough drama to keep the media attention at its highest.
Preceded by a successful spectator race, several thousand people attended at the opening ceremony.
Young artists from Sarpsborg UKM kept the audience warm with song and dance. After that all 48 participating nations paraded in in with style accompanied by Sarpsborg Janitsjarkorps and with World Cup speaker Kjell-Erik Kristiansen announcing it all from stage.
Sarpsborg's mayor Sindre Martinsen-Evje welcomed warmly and wished everyone good luck.
- This is the first time a World Championships of this format is held in Østfold. A World Cup puts us on the map - and it's important for Sarpsborg and Østfold to showcase some of the great thing we have to offer, he said.
Secretary of State Frida Blomgren from the Ministry of Culture also took to the podium to wish everyone welcome. She said the Ministry would like to support federations from the less visible sports who want to bid for hosting big events. This will give those sports more attention and an increase in interest as well as giving local communities a boost.
"This is a proud day for Norway, and I wish everyone involved the best of luck," Blomgren said.