The EYOF in Maribor began with an Opening Ceremony at the Ljudski vrt stadium ©EOC

The summer edition of the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) has officially begun in Maribor, with Slovenian athlete Tim Marovt lighting the Cauldron with the Flame of Peace and the host nation's President Nataša Pirc Musar in attendance at the Opening Ceremony.

Marovt was chosen as an inspirational figure to perform the ceremonial role at the Ljudski vrt stadium, where more than 5,000 people were in attendance.

Now aged 20, the former member of Slovenia's junior ski team was paralysed with a rare spinal cord injury on a family holiday while surfing in Hawaii at the age of 12 in 2014 and told he would not walk again, but he has now run in more than 15 10 kilometre races and wants to participate in all major marathons.

The Flame of Peace is set to burn in the Cauldron for the duration of the EYOF, which is set to run until Saturday (July 29).

The Cauldron was designed by Greta Godnič, and consists of 11 parts representing the 11 sports on the programme.

The Opening Ceremony was presented by Melani Mekicar and Roko Škrlep, and directed by Nejc Levstik with the set designed by Godnič.

It began with the Slovenian national anthem and raising of the host nations' flag.

A total of 2,419 athletes from 48 countries are competing at the EYOF, with Russia and Belarus remaining excluded due to the war in Ukraine, and those in attendance then took part in the Parade of Nations.

Judoka Irakli Goginashvili and road cyclist Erin Boothman for Britain, artistic gymnast Helen Kevric and skateboarder Anton Wessely for Germany, and mountain biker Maruša Tereza Šerkeza and runner Žan Ogrinec for Slovenia were among the flagbearers.

Slovenian indie rock band Joker Out, who represented the nation in this year's Eurovision Song Contest, were among the musical performers at the Opening Ceremony, with opera singer Raiven and an orchestra accompanying the raising of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) flag.

Oaths were taken on behalf of volunteers, athletes, judges and coaches, followed by the lighting of the Cauldron.

EOC President Spyros Capralos underlined the significance of the EYOF for young athletes during his Opening Ceremony speech, with the multi-sport event open to those aged 14 to 18.

"There is no doubt that we will see the stars of the future, many EYOF winners later won medals at the European and Olympic Games," the International Olympic Committee member in Greece said.

"I would like to thank everyone, the Organising Committee, the Municipality of Maribor, the Slovenian Government, the Slovenian Olympic Committee, the volunteers and everyone who worked hard to make the event a success."

Slovenia's President Natasa Pirc Musar declared the EYOF in Maribor open ©Getty Images
Slovenia's President Natasa Pirc Musar declared the EYOF in Maribor open ©Getty Images

Pirc Musar was among those in attendance, and declared the EYOF open.

"Let this Olympic Festival be a celebration of sports, fulfilled dreams, friendship and mutual respect," she said.

Tennis competition began today at Branik Tennis Club, with players representing the hosts progressing to the second-round of the singles competitions.

Beti Butina Jazbec beat Germany's Emily Victoria Eigelsbach 6-1, 6-4 in the women's singles first-round, and Ziga Sesko overcame Finland's Lukas Korsstrom 6-2, 6-0.

Medal events are due to start tomorrow in athletics and swimming.