By Nigar Orujova
The official logo for 2015 European Games due to be held in Azerbaijan's capital Baku was unveiled on November 23 at the 42nd European Olympic Committees General Assembly in Rome.
Conceived by 35 year-old Azerbaijani Adam Yunisov, the new logo brings together five core elements that have shaped the host country's ancient and contemporary culture and aspirations, including Flame, Water, the mythical Simurg bird, Carpet and Pomegranate.
Addressing the event, Azerbaijan's Minister of Youth and Sport, Azad Rahimov said that Azerbaijan is honoured to host the first-ever European Games and to welcome athletes and visitors from across Europe for this historic event in 2015.
"Our logo reflects the pride of our nation in its sporting heritage, our commitment to hospitality and welcoming our guests, and our position as an emerging center for sport, business and tourism in Europe and beyond," he said.
According to Rahimov, the legacy benefits from the European Games will be significant and transformational.
"For young people, athletes, National Olympic Committees and Sport Federations, Baku 2015 will provide a new world-class centre of sports venues and facilities that will help to shape the future of sport in Europe and, for the communities of Azerbaijan, bring new urban, transport and economic benefits and infrastructure," he said.
"That's what these Games - and our passionate desire to host them - are really about," he said.
According to European Olympic Committees President Patrick Hickey, the logo represents another important milestone in preparing for the Games.
"Europe, for the first time, will have its own continental multi-sport event. For many European athletes, this event will be an important step on the journey to one day wearing their nation's colors as a competitor in the Olympic Games," Hickey said.
The Assembly also chose to hold the 43rd General Assembly of the European Olympic Committees in Baku.
In Azerbaijan, the logo was unveiled during Baku's first progress report to the EOC General Assembly as host city for the European Games.
Speaking at the event, Yunisov said that his logo design, which was selected in an open public competition, depicts the nation's natural beauty, culture and heritage, and the vibrancy of Baku, one of Europe's fastest-growing economies and cities.
"I wanted to reflect the passion and aspirations that Azerbaijani people have and share them for the first-ever European Games. I wanted the logo to be innovative and inspirational in spirit and in sports," Yunusov said.
Azerbaijani athletes also embraced the new logo. Speaking at the celebration of the logo launch in Baku, Farid Mansurov, an Azerbaijani wrestler who won gold at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, said, "Baku 2015 promises to provide career-defining opportunities and moments for athletes, high quality sporting action for fans and inspiration for young people. To wear this logo is to be a part of shaping the future of European sport."
Zemfira Meftakhetdinova, who won two Olympic medals in skeet shooting, including Gold in Sydney 2000, said, "This is a logo that makes me feel proud of our country's emergence as a European center for sport, business and tourism."
Also, Baku 2015's official logo was revealed on November 23 and later in the evening was worn on the front of Atletico Madrid's shirts, in La Liga home match against Getafe CF at Vicente Calderon Stadium.
The logo is the latest in a succession of milestones for Baku 2015 Games organizers that followed completion of the draft sports program and competition schedule, and finalization of the venue masterplan, which includes a modern Athletes' Village, utilization of Crystal Hall as five sports arena, development of a new Baku Aquatics Center, and a purpose-built 65,000-seat stadium for Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
The Baku 2015 logo brings together five core elements. The Azerbaijan Carpet reflects the importance of cultural heritage, diversity and creative expression which are intrinsic principles to the Baku 2015 plans.
The Flame represents Baku's burning ambition to host Europe's first-ever European Games, as Azerbaijan is known as the 'Land of Fire' with its Yanar Dag, a natural gas fire that blazes at dusk, attract tourists from around the world, with visitor figures up three times in the past decade.
The Wave symbolizes the dynamic growth of the city on an east-west axis along the shores of the Caspian Sea, and the new wave concept for a European Games that will shape the future of sport on the continent. Located at 28 meters below sea level on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, Baku is the lowest-lying national capital in the world. Today Baku's unique geographic location continues to drive its economic, social and cultural development.
The Simurgh, a benevolent, mythical flying creature, is considered to represent the union between the Earth and the Sky, serving as mediator and messenger between the two. The element symbolises the connection that Azerbaijani people have with the natural environment, along with their warmth and hospitality that will welcome athletes, fans and officials in 2015.
The Pomegranate, famous in Azerbaijani food and heritage, has long symbolized fertility and abundance. The fifth element of the logo represents the ambition of Baku 2015 to bring together people from across Europe in a celebration of sport and to create a legacy for future generations.
The first European Games will see more than 5,400 athletes from all the 49 Olympic nations of Europe compete in 18 sports, including new formats and disciplines featuring for the first time at a major European sports event, such as basketball 3x3.
The games will start on June 12, 2015.