IT is a nation commonly associated with hot women, Chernobyl and political upheaval. Yet, after 20 years as a state, the world still doesn’t know much more about Ukraine, but this is a country poised to emerge onto the world’s stage for Euro 2012.
In April 2007, Ukraine and Poland were announced as co-hosts of the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, becoming the easternmost host nations in the European Championship’s 14-year history.
The massive initial celebrations were tempered by the fact both nations had to move fast to bring stadiums up to scratch as the eyes of Europe and much of the football-watching world looked to them to see if they were up to the challenge of hosting the coveted tournament.
Fast-forward three years and it seems both nations are more than capable of meeting the test – less than a year out from the beginning of Euro 2012.
Kyiv will host the premier event, the final on July 1, 2012, and on the streets of the Ukrainian capital preparations rival those steps taken by the host city for an Olympiad.
Work at the historic Kyiv Olimpiysky stadium is continuing at pace as the arena converts into a world-class facility in preparation for the biggest sporting event in the country’s history.
Elsewhere in the city road upgrades and beautification work are also nearing completion in a pattern repeated in the other Ukrainian host cities Lviv, Kharkiv and Donetsk and across the border in Poland.
Ukraine should reap the rewards.
The tournament drew a staggering 12,149,425 ticket requests from fans in more than 206 countries an all-time record for the championship and forced organizers to employ a lottery system for tickets.
The Ukrainian capital, and Lviv are slowly being discovered by tourists, while the lesser-known cities of Kharkiv and Donetsk also offer unique charms and the influx of football fans is certain to place the cities and the nation on the world map.
Hand-in-hand with this influx comes the need for accommodation.
There’s no shortage of four and five-star hotels in Kyiv, with most of the large international chains having a presence there. Those on a tighter budget are less spoiled for choice when it comes to mid-range hotels, but the range and depth of accommodation is growing as Euro 2012 draws closer. At www.booked.net you will find full listings of hotels across all Euro 2012 host cities in Ukraine and in Poland.
However, as a cautionary note, demand for accommodation is expected to be high so ticket holders for any of the matches are advised to book sooner rather than later.