The EOC flag for the Winter EYOF was handed from Vuokatti 2022 to Friuli Venezia Giulia 2023 at the Closing Ceremony ©Ignacio Casares

European Olympic Committees (EOC) President Spyros Capralos has declared the Winter European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) closed here, with the organisation's flag handed over to 2023 hosts Italy at the Closing Ceremony.

The Festival for athletes aged 14 to 18 in Finland was the EOC's first multi-sport event held since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the first of Greek official Capralos' Presidency.

Nine sports featured on the programme, with 44 countries taking part.

Competition has been staged over five days following Sunday's (March 20) Opening Ceremony, primarily in Vuokatti, but with ice hockey matches staged in Kajaani and ski jumping and Nordic combined in Lahti.

Mika Kilpeläinen, the President of the Vuokatti 2022 Organising Committee and Mayor of Sotkamo, was the first to speak outside the Vuokatti Areena, before Capralos in his closing remarks reserved special praise for athletes at the Winter EYOF.

"At the Opening Ceremony, I finished by saying two things," the EOC President said.

"Firstly, that you athletes, would all be the stars this week. 

"And secondly, that you would all make us feel proud and united as a continent. 

"I stand here now with great emotion, filled with optimism, and proud to be European.

"Your spectacular performances, on and off the field of play, have embodied the Olympic Values.

"Not all of you leave here with medals.

"But all of you leave here as champions.

EOC President Spyros Capralos declared that all athletes at the Winter EYOF would leave as
EOC President Spyros Capralos declared that all athletes at the Winter EYOF would leave as "champions of peace and unity" ©Ignacio Casares

"Champions of peace.

"Champions of unity. 

"And champions of a better and brighter tomorrow

"You are the future of European sport."

He also paid tribute to the efforts of the Finnish Olympic Committee, the Organising Committee and volunteers in staging the event, before officially bringing the Festival to an end.

"From the bottom of our hearts, congratulations, and thank you," Capralos concluded.

"Dear athletes, dear friends of sport, thank you all for an amazing week.

"See you all next year in Italy for the Winter EYOF Friuli Venezia Giulia 2023.

"And I now declare the Vuokatti EYOF officially closed."

The EOC flag outside the Vuokatti Areena was then lowered, and ceremonially handed over to the Friuli Venezia Giulia 2023 Winter EYOF Organising Committee President Maurizio Dunhoffer and vice-president Giorgio Brandolin.

It was then raised by short track speed skater Alessandro Loreggia, who won three medals in Finland.

To conclude the Ceremony, the Flame of Peace - first lit in Rome in December last year and burning outside the venue since the Cauldron was lit by cross-country skier Vilma Nissinen on Sunday - was extinguished.

Hosts Finland topped the medals table at the Winter EYOF, claiming six golds which dated back to their boys' ice hockey victory in the tournament staged back in December.