First Lady: European Games 2015 to start new era in sports movement
By Nigar Orujova
The second assembly of the coordinating committee of the Baku European Games due in 2015 was held on October 28.
Azerbaijan will host the first European Games in its capital from June 12, 2015. The Games will be a multi-sport event for elite athletes from the 49 Olympic nations of Europe and will be held every four years.
Azerbaijan's First Lady, Chairperson of the European Games' Organizing Committee Mehriban Aliyeva chaired the assembly, which was held in Baku.
Addressing the event, the First Lady said these Games signified confidence in Azerbaijan, as well as new opportunities and a very serious commitment for Azerbaijan.
"Today Azerbaijan is known as a country of sport, and holding of reputable competitions has become a tradition in our country. European and world championships are held regularly in Azerbaijan. Both our guests and experts testified to these events being held at the highest level," she said.
The First Lady said further that the inaugural European Games to be held in Azerbaijan will usher in a new era in the sports movement, and Azerbaijan will be the country to write the first page of this history.
"I would like to once more underline that the people of Azerbaijan highly appreciate these games and realize the responsibility for the Games that will play a great role in the history of European sports. At the same time, the government of Azerbaijan has been providing all types of support to these Games and is doing its utmost to make sure that they are held successfully and European sportsmen deliver brilliant performances," she said.
The First Lady emphasized a number of achievements attained since the first assembly of the European Games' coordinating committee.
She said that the schedule of the competitions has already been drafted, and the number of officials and athletes who will participate in the Baku Games, as well as the dates on which the tournament will be held, have been reviewed.
The list of venues where the sporting events will be organized has been drawn up and financial matters analyzed.
Aliyeva also spoke about the work done in the Olympic Village and said that the place to construct a media village has been determined, a preliminary version of the European Olympic Games' official site created, a communication strategy worked out, and an agreement reached on broadcasting the Games.
Saying that the level of preparations in Baku for the Games was of vital importance, the First Lady noted that today projects associated with the Azerbaijani capital's development are implemented, a new airport is being built, and recreation facilities and parks are being laid.
She noted that ensuring close cooperation between all concerned entities during the time left was important and expressed confidence that the European Games would be held at the highest level.
Taking the floor afterwards, President of the European Olympic Committees Patrick Hickey highly assessed the work done under the First Lady's leadership and spoke of the forthcoming tasks.
During his visit to Baku, Hickey and a member of the executive committee of the European Olympic Committees, Spyros Kapralos, met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
Hickey congratulated the Azerbaijani President on his re-election. He also hailed rapid economic development and expansion of sports infrastructure in the country.
The parties stressed the importance of the work done to develop various fields of sport in Azerbaijan and exchanged views over the preparations for the first European Games.
Earlier this month, Baku started the countdown to the inaugural games. The tournament is set to be a major event in the international sporting calendar; Baku 2015 is expecting around 5,600 competitors vying in a total of 18 sports.
At present events confirmed for Baku 2015 include such established Olympic sports as swimming, diving, cycling, boxing and gymnastics, as well as new formats for sports such as 3x3 basketball and beach soccer, providing an exciting blueprint for future major sporting events.
The General Assembly of the European Olympic Committees, held in Rome in December 2012 with representatives of 49 National Olympic Committees, chose Baku as a host city for the Games by a secret ballot and a majority of votes.
The Baku 2015 Games organizers have lifted the curtains for the first time on some of the venues that will be used to stage the tournament.
Local and international media were given a preview of a number of venues that will host international athletes and sports in Baku, including Crystal Hall, which staged the highly acclaimed Eurovision 2012 and will host Volleyball at the European Games in 2015.
The tour also included the Athletes Village, consisting of spacious, well-fitted apartments, which will provide a new standard of living and preparation for international athletes.
The Azerbaijani government is investing in extensive preparations across Baku to launch the European Games as a major event in the international sporting calendar, including a new airport terminal, transport projects, including upgrades to the underground and bus systems, and many other infrastructure and city enhancement projects.