Pontevedra is the first Spanish city to stage the World Triathlon Championship Finals ©ITG

Galician Government President Alfonso Rueda has claimed the region in north-west Spain is "the best place in the world to play sports" at the Opening Ceremony of the World Triathlon Championship Finals here.

Pontevedra is the first Spanish host for the event which decides the men's and women's world champions at the end of the World Triathlon Championship Series season, with World Championships in Para triathlon and age groups also due to be held from tomorrow until Sunday (September 24).

More than 3,000 athletes from 57 countries took part in the Parade of Nations through the narrow streets of the Old Town before gathering at the Plaza de España.

The Opening Ceremony featured spectacular shows from performers from the Pablo Mèndez Performances company dangling above the square from a crane, and displays of local music and dancing.

Local athlete Antonio Serrat took the pre-competition oath on behalf of all athletes, Iñaki Arenal for the coaches and Carmen Gómez for the officials.

Mayor of Pontevedra and Organising Committee President Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores was first to welcome participants to the city.

Participants from 57 countries gathered in Pontevedra for the Opening Ceremony of the World Triathlon Championship Finals ©ITG
Participants from 57 countries gathered in Pontevedra for the Opening Ceremony of the World Triathlon Championship Finals ©ITG

"Spain organised for the first time the Grand Final of the World Series, World Championships in Para Triathlon and the age group Championships, and what better place than Pontevedra, a city designed for people and sustainable mobility, which for many years has been committed to holding the best European and world triathlon events," he said.

"We are the land of iconic triathletes - Javier Gómez Noya, five-time world champion, Susana Rodríguez Gacio, Paralympic champion in Tokyo, also Iván Raña, Pablo Dapena, Saleta Castro, Antonio Serrat.

"Pontevedra breathes sport in every corner and square, and for four days it will be the triathlon theme park.

"A place where triathletes can enjoy the best show, in the most incredible spaces in the city, and where you can fulfil your dreams always encouraged by a fantastic audience, with incredible gastronomy and culture."

Rueda delivered a welcome in which he claimed the Galicia region is "the best place in the world to play sports".

"I say this not only as a Galician born in Pontevedra, but also as a sports lover, especially considering this is the first time this event takes place in Spain, which is quite an honour and further proof that Galicia is becoming more and more popular," he said.

Spanish Triathlon Federation President José Hidalgo and Pontevedra Provincial Council President Luis López also welcomed visitors to the city, before World Triathlon President Marisol Casado, an International Olympic Committee member in Spain, praised organisers for their work in staging the Championship Finals.

"Thank you Pontevedra," Casado said.

"In the name of the triathlon family I want to say thank you very much. 

"These were fantastic performances tonight and the performances that we are going to see in the days ahead will also be magnificent, here in Pontevedra for the Championships. 

"I would like to thank the City of Pontevedra for welcoming the triathlon community and I am looking forward to the week ahead. 

"Good luck to everyone, enjoy it."

Next year's World Triathlon Championship Finals are due to be held back-to-back in the same country for the first time with Málaga awarded hosting rights.