competing in the first Eurogames heat get together to celebrate
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.
impressive arena built for the Eurogames competitions
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.
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.
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
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.
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'.
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
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