The teams competing in the first Eurogames heat get together to celebrate


When Jeux Sans Frontičres ended after 18 annual seasons of competition in 1982, it was supposedly gone for good (and if you were living in the United Kingdom, arguably it was!). Fans of the series had to wait six years before a new version launched on the Continent in 1988 - and this 'second series' lasted until 1999. And then nothing... for a very, very long time... until 2019, a full two decades later, when the 31st series of JSF was made and transmitted, albeit under a different title - Eurogames.


Produced by the Mediaset group, specifically its Italian company Mediaset Italia, this new series was unable to use the classic 'Jeux Sans Frontičres' name as it was owned by original series rights holder the European Broadcasting Union, who were not involved in Eurogames. The series is, however, seen as an official follow-up to JSF, and its theme music, which is a new version of the 1988-1999 signature tune, is testament to this.


Comprising five heats, each contested by six different towns and cities representing one of six nations - Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Russia and Spain - with qualification to a sixth event, the grand final, Eurogames was latter years JSF in all but name. As in the last few years of the second run of JSF, the programmes were staged at a single venue, in this case at the Cinecittŕ World Amusement Park, near Rome, Italy, in an arena that was built specially for the games.


The impressive arena built for the Eurogames competitions


The arena's theme was based around the idea of a Roman colosseum. The set consists of a general games area, a pool and a representation of the ancient Circus Maximus, with the Champions' Wall ramp to the far end.


The main referee was Juri Chechi, a celebrated Italian gymnast who won a Gold Medal at the Atlanta Olympics of 1996 and a Bronze at the Athens Olympics eight years later.


Each heat was composed of eight games, two of which were standard games repeated in each heat. The first of these - 'The Bubbles' - involved contestants moving a transparent ball from the inside across a pool of water and an obstacle course, and the second was a version of The Champions' Wall, as seen in domestic and international versions of Intervilles (though points scored did not give a head start in Eurogames). Double points for all placings were available on 'The Bubbles' and triple points for 'The Champions' Wall'. The rest of the games were different in every heat.


In addition to the eight games, an old-style Fil Rouge was also played, offering double points for all placings. In the first heat this was an obstacle course through a cage called 'The Playground', though this was ditched for the remainder of the series, being replaced by 'Going to the Beach', where competitors had to carry buckets of water across a 'human sea'.


Each team in the competition was composed of ten members of ages between 18 and 55 (though some of the Spanish mayors who took part were over 60!). Town councils each paid €10,000 including tax to the organisers – this payment was required to cover participation expenses in the contest, including travel and accommodation.


Sadly, the series did not achieve its projected audience share of 20% of the Italian viewership, with ratings falling most weeks, with a high of 15.9% (Heat 1) and a low of 8.19% (International Final).


International transmissions followed in Greece (SKAI) and non-competing country Cyprus (Sigma TV), starting in late December 2019, with each programme edited down to one hour and fifty minutes duration. Cyprus took the same edits and features as Greece. In Spain, Mediaset Espańa released all six programmes on their internet streaming subscription service on 2nd January 2020, with programmes edited down to one hour and twenty minutes each. Both the Greek and Spanish versions featured local commentary and interviews with players from the respective countries.


by Alan Hayes
with thanks to David Laich Ruiz and Marko Voštan

JSFnetGB Series Guide pages researched by
Neil Storer and Alan Hayes
with Ischa Bijl, Julien Dessy, Sébastien Dias, David Hamilton, Denis Kirsanov, Paul Leaver, Philippe Minet,
Christos Moustakas, David Laich Ruiz, Marko Voštan and JSFnet Websites