|Euro 2012's white rounded roofed tents - VNA/VNS Photo Tran Mai Huong
|Euro 2012's flower clock - VNA/VNS Photo Tran Mai Huong
|Euro 2012's Olympic Stadium—VNS Photo Tran Mai Huong.
By Tran Mai Huong
KIEV-Ukrainians are enjoying an eventful 2012 Euro in Kiev's crowded Independence Square, decorated with a giant football, a new flower clock, two home-team football players and a multitude of LED TV screens. Amidst those flocking to the city, we bumped into correspondents from Kiev's TV station, hustling for interviews and filming foreign arrivals.
It came as a surprise to young cameraman Konstantin Jalukov that I was a Vietnamese journalist.
"I've only just interviewed a Vietnamese fellow named Dang Bui Hoan, currently studying in Canada. He can speak fluent English and has an in-depth knowledge of the Euro and Kiev. It is amazing," he said, adding, "In fact, my colleagues and I are working around the clock to serve the Euro. It is a historical event for Ukraine and Poland!"
Independence Square will be a hot spot for visitors interested in football and those with an eye on relaxation and sightseeing, which could cost as little as Hvina 1,200 , equivalent to US$15.
It is hard to ignore the city's special atmosphere.
Euro advertisements with artistic logos are hung alongside pictures of world-class football players and Ukraine's own yellow-shirt football team.
Nicolai Maliuga, deputy head of the Euro 2012 organising board, told Kiev TV that Ukraine's preparations for the event, especially in its cities, have been finished.
The Olympic Stadium, located close to the city centre, has been upgraded to contain more than 70,000 spectators.
"The stadium can now be put into service while the nearby museum will be finished in the next few days."
"As a Kiev resident, I am really happy. The Olympic Stadium will host five matches including the final. Both Ukraine and Poland are proud of this historical chance. We believe in our team, currently being coached by Oleg Blokhin, a talented former footballer," said Boris Ivanovich, an engineer.
According to Olena Shapovalova, in charge of managing tourism to Ukraine, the country is trying its best to serve and satisfy around one million foreign visitors ahead of the Euro 2012.
She added that current arrivals far exceeded last year's figure of 1,3 million. Security, public transport and related services have been paid careful attention to expose Ukraine's hospitality.
When asked about how overseas Vietnamese feel about the Euro event, Ho Dac Minh Nguyet, the country's ambassador to the Ukraine, said, "The embassy stands by to welcome Vietnamese visitors from either Viet Nam or other parts of the world such as France, Germany and the UK. Travelers from America and Canada have also streamed to the city, resulting in fully booked hotels and hostels as well as sold out match tickets. The embassy will try its best to help reporters and journalists from the Vietnamese press accomplish their missions here."
According to Nguyen Tan, a Vietnamese businessman residing in Kiev, about 12,000 overseas Vietnamese in cities such as Khacop, Odessa and the capital are especially eager about the Euro 2012. The former Soviet Union and Dinamo Kiev football teams, with world-class players such as Oleg Blokhin, Mikhailichenko and Belanov as well as talented coach Lobanopski, are still fresh in people's memories.
Economic depression coupled with high-priced tickets has partly prevented people from attending one of the most eventful football festivals of the year.
On the overseas Vietnamese website in Khacov, with a Vietnamese population of over 7,000, information on the Euro 2012 includes match schedules and detailed guidelines.
Apart from the Euro 2012, Ukraine, with its people, culture, traditions and nature, has become a magnet for tourism. In Kiev, historical sites such as Independence Square, a complex centre of religious and cultural relics and Saint Sophia Cathedral, amongst others, have become prime destinations. - VNS