UEFA president Michel Platini said the co-host nations had made "tremendous progress" as Poland and Ukraine staged celebrations to signal 500 days to go until UEFA EURO 2012 kicks off.

"We have seen tremendous progress in the last year including new stadiums inaugurated and new air terminals put in operation," Platini was quoted as saying on UEFA's official website. The pace of the work has made us at UEFA very confident that the necessary infrastructure will be ready well in advance."

He added: "Five hundred days may seem a long time to go, but for an event of such magnitude every day counts and we are going to continue our fruitful partnership with the governments of the host countries, the host cities and the local organising committees to ensure a festive and unforgettable UEFA EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine."

All four host cities in Ukraine marked the latest EURO milestone. In Kharkiv, 2,000 schoolchildren attended a special lesson called 'We are the hosts of EURO 2012' at the city's main concert hall, with national tournament organiser Markiyan Lubkivskiy among the speakers.

"Five hundred days to EURO 2012 is a real milestone in our preparations," Lubkivskiy explained. "From today we can start the countdown to kick-off, and this is a significant signal to the tournament organisers, the host countries and the fans. Time is ticking on and we will not waste even a minute. In 500 days, Ukraine and Poland will welcome guests from all over the world for the greatest footballing event in Europe."

Meanwhile, in Donetsk, mayor Olexandr Lukyanchenko presented his city's marketing programme for the finals, and demanded even more commitment as the finals draw closer. "We have to put even more effort in as preparing for the tournament is a huge responsibility for the city and the whole region," he said. "We must fulfil our obligations."

Quizzes and competitions in the local media – and out on the streets – helped spread the 500 days to go message in Lviv. Kyiv – host city for the final itself – held a series of round-table discussions which culminated in the signing of a special agreement between the capital's administration and the local student governing body on the selection and training of volunteers for the finals.


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