First-Ever European Olympics to be Held in Azerbaijan

From 12 June to 28 June 2015 Baku, the capital of the Republic of Azerbaijan, will host the First European Olympics, organized by International Olympic Organization, including 49 national European Olympic committees. This decision, as a result of the secret balloting, where out of 48 votes, 38 came in favor, was made on 8 December 2012 at the 41-th General Assembly of the European Olympic Committee held in Rome, in the Italian National Olympic Committee head-quarter at “Foro Italico” stadium.
As it was said by President of European Olympic Committee (EOC) Patrick Hickey, “We stand at the origins of one of the greatest events in the sport history in Europe. I am proud to say that the first European games will be held in 2015 in Baku. Our long-awaited baby has been finally born. And now we’ll look after him carefully and raise it to make everything at top notch in the beautiful city of Baku. And most importantly, that it was only the beginning – the first page of multi-year, full and vibrant life of European games.”
The European Games is a regional version of the Summer Olympic Games held every four years. Europe is the last of the continents to hold its own Olympic tournament. The Central American and Caribbean Games have been organized since 1926, the Asian Games and Pan American Games since 1951, the All-Africa Games since 1965, the Central American Games since 1973, and the South American Games since 1978.azerbaijan_national_gymnastics_arena_020315
The Azerbaijani Government has moved swiftly on organization. Describing the Games as a ‘historic event’, President Ilham Aliyev issued an order on 17 January, 2013 setting up an Organizing Committee. The Committee is chaired by First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, who had already an experience in holding world-level events such as song contest “Eurovision-2012” also hosted by Baku, as Chairperson. The organization and hospitality in Baku impressed the competitors and fans as well as the TV.
The European Games Committee has 30 members, including ministers and Olympic champions. Azerbaijan has hired many international experts, including lots of people who worked on the London 2012 Olympic Games, to help ensure the Games are well organized.
Of course, it wasn’t so easy to organize such an important event for the first time, as there are no previous games to use as a model. Specially for holding the First European Games 2015, Baku is completing construction and reconstruction of several Olympic facilities. Heydar Aliyev Sports and Concert Complex, the Tofig Bahramov Republican Stadium, the Baku Crystal Hall, the Sarhadhchi Sports Complex, the Palace of Hand Games, the Shafa Stadium, Baku Expo Centre, Baku Olympic Stadium, Aquatic Sports, Shooting Centre, Gymnastics Complex and number of others are ready to host competitors from all around Europe.trend_aticiliq_merkezi_170415_04
The Games’ official opening and closing ceremonies are to be held in the new stadium, which will have a capacity of 65,000. Some 6,000 athlets from 49 European countries and 1,000 officials are expected to take part in the Games, with around 2,000 journalists covering the event. The competitors will be accommodated in an Olympic Village and the journalists in a Media Village.
The European Games will feature up to 20 sports at the inaugural event in June 2015. The Games will feature 16 summer Olympic and 4 non-Olympic sports. International federations for handball, volleyball, rugby, boxing, judo, biathlon, horserace, badminton, taekwondo, archery, fencing, canoe, table tennis, wrestlingm karate, sambo and others have confirmed their participation in the Games.
There will be 253 medal events – and there will also opportunities in 12 sports to qualify for next year’s Olympics in Rio.
Some of those sports offer direct qualification – such as triathlon, shooting and table tennis – and others provide ranking points, including wrestling, archery and taekwondo.
Overall, the European Games will be of great benefit for Azerbaijan in terms of popularising of sports in the country, development of infrastructure, bringing broader awareness about the country, contribution to the development of tourism and ,indeed, financial dividends.
The European Olympics will not be last sports events to be held in Azerbaijan. It will be followed by World Chess Cup 2015, Chess Olympiad 2016, Islamic Games 2017 and some games of UEFA Euro 2020.

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