"The whole country is celebrating a gift to all our people," said Viktor Yanukovych, the President of Ukraine, at the official opening of Kyiv's Olympic Stadium, venue for the UEFA EURO 2012 final.

President Yanukovych, who joined numerous dignitaries from the political and sporting worlds in addition to 50,000 people at the opening ceremony for the refurbished stadium, expressed great pride at the inauguration of a venue that will host five UEFA EURO 2012 fixtures including the final on 1 July.

"Today the whole country is celebrating," said Yanukovych. "The new stadium is a gift to all our people, especially youngsters and children – the champions of the future. The successful reconstruction of the NSC Olympiyskiy has become the most telling project for Ukraine's image. I have no doubt that, at UEFA EURO 2012, Kyiv and Ukraine will offer visitors from many European states the very highest standards."

The two-hour opening ceremony, which was broadcast live on national television, featured 2,500 volunteers and 500 actors, dancers, acrobats and artists from various countries who appeared in a vast theatrical production. Other performers included popular Ukrainian singers Ani Lorak, Taisia Povaliy and Gaitana – a Friend of UEFA EURO 2012 – while the highlight of the evening was a concert by the Colombian singer Shakira. The ceremony concluded with a spectacular fireworks display.

The full reconstruction of the stadium reached its completion just over three years after work began. Now able to seat 68,000 spectators and boasting two giant screens of 103 square metres, the arena meets UEFA requirements for elite-class venues. The multifunctional complex also contains numerous restaurants, bars and shops.

Journalists will be able to work in excellent conditions in the new press seating area, which can accommodate up to 1,497 people, with specific room for a further 366 television and radio commentators. The first live football reports will be filed when the Olympic Stadium stages a friendly between Ukraine and Germany on 11 November.

Meanwhile the new Lviv stadium, the last of the four Ukrainian EURO stadiums to be completed, opens its doors on 29 October, with Ukraine hosting Austria in its inaugural match on 15 November.

Published 17/10/2011