The 2023 European Games are due to be held in Kraków-Małopolska, and EOC President Spyros Capralos remains "confident that Poland will organise them" ©Getty Images

European Olympic Committees (EOC) President Spyros Capralos has claimed that he is "confident" that next year's European Games in Kraków-Małopolska will take place as planned, in spite of a growing exodus of refugees from Ukraine to Poland.

According to the United Nations' Refugee Agency, more than 3.3 million people have fled Ukraine since the beginning of Russia's invasion on February 24.

Poland has been praised for welcoming more than two million refugees after three-and-a-half weeks of conflict in its eastern neighbour Ukraine, but the Stowarzyszenie Miasto Wspólne residents' association earlier this month called for proposed funds for the European Games to be reallocated to relief efforts.

Speaking at a press conference before the opening of the Winter European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Vuokatti, Capralos said he expects that Poland will have the resources to be able to host the 2023 European Games.

"Poland is a country that has a big tradition in sport, they have assumed the organisation of the European Games in 2023," the Greek official said.

"At the same time they have had more than two million refugees who have been in Poland, and they are providing a lot of help and assistance to these people.

"We believe that Poland after a while when they will be able to assume all these responsibilities, they will also continue their responsibility in organising the European Games.

"I think also the European Games next year will be very important.

"We are sure and we are confident that Poland will organise them."

Poland has welcomed more than two million refugees from Ukraine since Russia's invasion on February 24 ©Getty Images
Poland has welcomed more than two million refugees from Ukraine since Russia's invasion on February 24 ©Getty Images

Capralos added that he welcomed Polish Governmental support for the third edition of the multi-sport event, which is set to provide qualification opportunities for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, and vowed that the EOC would assist the country where possible.

"We have reassurances because in Parliament they passed various laws that are going to help the European Games, and at the same time I think in an effort of solidarity from all of us, we are providing also financial help to the refugees and we are going to help also the Polish, so it's everybody," he said.

"It's the IOC (International Olympic Committee), European Union, EOC, everybody in these difficult times, because I think we need to pass the message to the world that sport unites people."

While funding for the Games has been a recurrent talking point especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, positive steps appeared to have been take a senior Government level in recent months.

Polish President Andrzej Duda signed an act of support for the 2023 European Games in December.

In the same month, Michał Langer was appointed as President of the European Games 2023 company established by the Małopolska Province and is serving as the Organising Committee.

Minister of Sport and Tourism Kamil Bortniczuk then signed a letter of intent in January, which declared that 50 per cent of the costs would be covered by the Polish Government, with Kraków and Małopolska each covering 25 per cent.

Kraków and Małopolska have warned that their expenditure will not exceed PLN100 million (£18.5 million/$25.2 million/€22.1 million).

Last month, the Mayor of Kraków Jacek Majchrowski established a coordination team to assist with the city's preparations for the European Games.

However, the Host City Contract has still yet to be signed.

Spyros Capralos, second left, declared that the EOC is providing
Spyros Capralos, second left, declared that the EOC is providing "financial help to refugees and we are going to help also the Polish" ©EOC

The European Games has previously been held in Baku in 2015 and Minsk in 2019.

Next year's edition is scheduled to take place between June 21 and July 2, with the Henryk Reyman’s Municipal Stadium due to stage the Opening Ceremony

Hellenic Olympic Committee President and IOC member Capralos was elected as the head of the EOC in June last year.

The continental body's latest multi-sport event - the Winter EYOF for athletes aged 14 to 18 - is starting today in Vuokatti in Finland.

It has been billed by Capralos as "a great opportunity for the athletes to be together and to show that sport is united".