The stadium where the Euro 2012 football final will be played has been officially opened in Kiev. But fireworks setting fire to the arena and semi-naked women running across the pitch were not part of the official schedule of the opening program.
The newly reconstructed Olympiskiy Stadium was full for a spectacular official opening ceremony on Saturday, as some 60,000 visitors enjoyed a performance by 2,000 artists, including Colombian superstar Shakira.
“It’s a holiday for the whole of Ukraine,” said Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who also attended the opening ceremony. “The stadium’s successful renovation is undoubtedly an exhibition project for Ukraine’s image.”
Not all went to plan, however, as fireworks set fire to some of the stage props, forcing the evacuation of the two central sectors. Stadium staff hurried to put the flames out before spectators were allowed to return to their seats and enjoy the rest of the show.
A section of the roof smoulders after being set oin fire by falling fireworks at the newly reconstructed Olympiyskiy Stadium. (AFP Photo/ Sergei Supinsky)
Another remarkable incident occurred when three topless female demonstrators from FEMEN, a Ukrainian women’s protest group, ran onto the pitch. They were demanding a “Euro 2012 without prostitution,” believing the football tournament is likely to lead to an increase in prostitution in the Ukrainian capital.
They were reportedly detained, put into a police van and driven away. The show went on without further incidents.
Stewards carry an activist of Ukrainian women’s movement FEMEN as she participated in a protest at the newly reconstructed Olympiyskiy Stadium during the opening ceremony. (AFP Photo/ Sergei Supinsky)
The first official football match at the new stadium is scheduled for November 11, when Ukraine will host Germany in a friendly match.
According to some estimates, the Olympiskiy’s reconstruction for the 2012 European Football Championship has cost some $470 million. The price tag has caused a lot of complaints among those who believe the works were overpriced and the costs were not transparent.
The stadium was originally completed in 1946, and hosted matches in the 1980 Olympics football tournament.