The Armenian Weekly 2023 AYF Olympics Special Issue now available online

The stands at AYF Olympics (Photo: Sona Gevorkian)

WATERTOWN, Mass.—AYF Olympics in Washington, D.C. saw hundreds of dedicated athletes, alumni and supporters descend on the nation’s capital, excited for the 89th annual games and laden with heavy hearts for the brave people of Artsakh. The mix of emotions was palpable, from the joyful reunions in the hotel’s lobby and on the athletic fields to the determined and forceful march and protest at the White House.

Everywhere we went, attendees expressed happiness to see old friends, to make new ones and to cheer on the athletes, while longing for freedom and justice for the Armenians of Artsakh. That determination led hundreds of participants to join the “SOS Artsakh!” march to the White House where the speakers and crowd demanded that President Joe Biden stop all military aid and sanction Azerbaijan for its genocidal actions. 

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While making our way to the White House, some people expressed anger and disbelief that, more than 100 years after the 1915 Armenian Genocide, we were still marching for the rights of our people to live on our indigenous lands without fear of persecution and death. Marching…a sadly ironic method of protest as our ancestors were marched to their deaths, and several short weeks later, more than 100,000 Armenians were forced to “march” out of their homeland.

AYF members carrying the Artsakh flag during Opening Ceremonies wearing their End the Blockade t-shirts (Photo: Sona Gevorkian)

The D.C. Steering Committee and community kept Artsakh at the forefront of the entire weekend’s events. Varadian Spirit Award recipient Yeghisapet Chouldjian accepted the award on behalf of the brave people of Artsakh. During the opening ceremonies, every speaker urged action for Artsakh, and every athlete wore specially designed t-shirts emblazoned with the demand to “End the Blockade.”

The loss of Artsakh led the Weekly team to postpone the publication of this year’s Olympics special issue, as the global Armenian community experienced disbelief and grief for our brothers and sisters enduring the catastrophic loss of lives and land. The ongoing humanitarian crisis requires all of us to direct our energies and resources to helping those who were forcibly displaced from their homes.

In the pages of the AYF Olympics Special Issue, now available online, you will read articles by our staunch team of reporters – Harry Derderian, Mark Gavoor and Bob Tutunjian – that highlight the commitment of the athletes to persevere and reach new heights, the overwhelming support of the community and the devotion of all to Artsakh. These stories are accentuated by the action-packed and vibrant photography of Sona Gevorkian, Arev Kaligian and Tamar Kanarian.

We are grateful for such a dedicated team in bringing this year’s special issue to life. The members of the Armenian Youth Federation work endlessly for the Armenian people and nation, remaining committed to the Armenian Cause – a free, independent and united Armenia. The AYF Olympics and the always anticipated special issue are time-honored traditions that we seek to uphold, especially during times of adversity and tragedy. With that in mind, and with Artsakh in our hearts, we present the 2023 AYF Olympics Special Issue

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