EOC President Spyros Capralos gave the welcome address at the EYOF Opening Ceremony in Banská Bystrica ©Nacho Casares/EOC

Peace is the word at the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) here in Banská Bystrica, and was a chord struck throughout the Opening Ceremony of an event hoped to invigorate and inspire in the Slovakian city.

Beside the host country, the Ukrainian team received the biggest cheer in the Parade of Nations as the 46-strong athlete delegation was officially welcomed to the 16th summer edition of the EYOF.

After the 48 countries passed the stage and took their seats in the park under the SNP Museum, which commemorates the Slovak National Uprising, messages of unity were given by European Olympic Committees (EOC) President Spyros Capralos.

The International Olympic Committee member thanked the local and national Governments for allowing the event to take place after it was moved from Slovakia's second-largest city Košice due to financial disagreements.

Key figures at city, region and state level could not come to a decision on how to fund the building of essential venues and as a result the hosting rights were taken away.

A special mention was to given to Ukraine by Capralos, after officials worked with the Slovak Olympic Committee to ensure the country's participation despite the ongoing Russian invasion.

"A special welcome to our Ukrainian friends, whose presence here in such a difficult time is a source of pride for our whole continent," said Capralos.

"I wish you all strength and give my assurance that the we remain firmly by your country’s side."

The conflict has resulted from the aggressor country and its ally Belarus being banned from this event.

The EYOF is the first multi-sport to be held in Banská Bystrica and it carries a weight on its shoulders, with its impact greatly anticipated.

"I probably do not need to mention what a huge benefit this will be for the whole region," said Boris Kollár, Speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic.

"It will help tourism, it will help draw young people to sport and I believe it will inspire others, because sport is a phenomenon that brings people together.

"Therefore, I invite all sports fans not only from Banská Bystrica but from all over Slovakia to come and support the athletes and become part of the Olympic Festival."

Part of the reason for Banská Bystrica to host the EYOF was so it could receive Government funding to renovate multiple sporting facilities in the city which was described by Capralos as a "fantastic investment for the future of sport and the youth of Slovakia."

"The Slovak Government allocated funds not only for the organisation of the Festival but also for the repair and construction of sports infrastructure," said Kollár.

"The ice stadium in Banská Bystrica and the sports hall in Detva have undergone incredible improvements."

Once the addresses were complete, volunteers carried the EOC flag before it was hoisted up a flagpole.

Triple Olympic biathlon champion Anastasia Kuzmina and Matej Tóth, who won gold in the men's 50 kilometres race walk at Rio 2016, lit the EYOF Flame of Peace to official inaugurate the event set to run until July 30.

The Opening Ceremony was closed out by several rousing performances of song and dance.

The Slovak Symphonic Orchestra produced a captivating rendition of Giacomo Puccini's Nessun Dorma prior to shows from local groups including the Gypsy Devils orchestra, the River Dance School, and the Urpín Folklore Ensemble which brought the evening's festivities to an end.