By Nigar Orujova
This year was remarkable not only for Azerbaijan's sports history, but for the history of Europe and the whole world being that Azerbaijan's capital hosted the first ever European Games, said Azad Rahimov, Youth and Sports Minister, in an address to the joint Congress of the European Fair Play Movement and the International Committee for Fair Play, currently underway in Baku.
Rahimov expressed his gratitude for awarding the venue for the congress and the 21st Assembly of the European Fair Play Movement to Baku.
Azerbaijan occupies a unique place on the global sports arena thanks to its sports achievements and the organization of prestigious international competitions and events, he said.
Rahimov further hailed the Azerbaijani president’s attention to sports. “The head of state, President of the National Olympic Committee Ilham Aliyev, pays special attention to the protection and promotion of Olympic movement and values of justice. The athlete's social status is above all.”
For his part, Christian Hinterberger, President of the European Fair Play Movement, underlined the importance of the congress, recalling that the Fair Play Movement is a combination of social dialogue and understanding.
“It is an integral part of sport. At the end of each large-scale sporting event, victories and the Fair Play Movement are always at the center of attention and become a topic of discussion. The Baku 2015 European Games were also organized on the basis of the principles of fair play,” he said.
The President of the International Committee for Fair Play, Jeno Kamuti, applauded the accomplishments of Azerbaijani athletes and the government’s attention to the development of sport in the country. He also praised the country’s excellent organization of the first European Games.
Kamuti noted that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev was awarded the Commemorative Medal of the International Fair Play Committee for his contribution to the development of sports in Azerbaijan and support of the Fair Play Movement.
The event featured a video clip highlighting the Fair Play Movement in Azerbaijan and in the world.
The main theme of the two-day congress is “Fair Play in Competitive Sport: Making it Real or just an Ideal.”
The second day of the Congress featured discussions on the cooperation and responsibility of the government and non-governmental sports organizations in preserving the Olympic values of sports and fair play. The discussions are chaired by Katarina Racz, EFPM EC member.
Addressing the congress, UK expert David Hemery stressed the importance of values in promoting fair games, adding that the responsibility of athletes plays an important role in achieving successful results.
He hailed the experience of education, business, government and non-governmental sectors in promoting fair play.
Touching upon the safeguarding of children in sports, UK expert Anne Tiivas in her speech stressed the importance of protecting children against all forms of violence in developing sport in the world, particularly in promoting fair games.
Following her speech, the guests listened in on a report from the representative of the Organizing Committee of the Fair Play Congress, Salhat Abbasova, titled “Sport Builds Bridges: But How do We Build Strong Bridges?”
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz