By Nigar Orujova
The first European Games has awarded 173 athletes with gold medals to date, according to Baku 2015 Chief Operating Officer Simon Clegg at a press conference in Baku on June 25.
Clegg noted that 21 more medals will be presented on June 25—two in fencing, nine in swimming, five in judo, and five in boxing.
Speaking on the competitions and on residents in the Athletes Village Clegg said, "Operations continue to run smoothly at all venues, with decommissioning continuing at venues that have completed their competition."
"As of last night, we still had 3,317 athletes and officials resident in the Athletes Village, down from its peak on 20 June, when we had 5,600 residents in the Athletes Village."
He also said that tickets for the closing ceremony of the Games have already been sold out, and they are unable to install additional seating in the stands at the arena.
Clegg mentioned that those who wished to watch, but would not be able to attend the closing ceremony at the National Stadium, can now do so on June 28 on a big screen that will be installed in the Seaside National Park in Baku.
The CEO said that more than 18,590 spectators watched the seven sports competitions on June 24.
"Thus, the attendance of the competition was 81 percent. Tomorrow is a national holiday as it is Armed Forces Day here in Azerbaijan and we expect spectator attendances to be higher across all venues. We are expecting up to 29,000 spectators tomorrow," Clegg added.
"From my perspective, I am absolutely delighted that all 50 members of the European Olympic Committees are here participating in Baku. This once again demonstrates the strength of sport and the unity of the Olympic movement," Clegg noted.
Clegg also mentioned that he is very pleased looking at the medal table that 40 of the 50 countries won medals at these Games and have had a positive experience.
Furthermore, the website of the first European Games is incredibly popular, Clegg said, adding that it had received 4.6 million hits the day before.
He also noted that he watched the competitions in beach soccer, which had been "absolutely fantastic".
Clegg cited the chairman of the FIFA Committee on Beach Soccer Joan Cusco, who said that never before in the history of the sport have beach soccer athletes played in such a sports arena as the one in which they are playing now in Baku.
"I think that was a great decision to include beach soccer in the program of the first European Games," Clegg exclaimed.
The beach soccer event commenced on June 24. Eight men’s teams, comprising of total of 96 athletes, will go head-to-head over the five days of the competition.
The Baku 2015 European Games is an innovative competition that has gathered over 6,000 athletes from 50 countries to compete in 20 sports.
Farid Gayibov, secretary general of Azerbaijan's national Gymnastics Federation, who was also attending the conference spoke on the inclusion of acrobatic gymnastics at Baku 2015: "Acrobatics aspires to be an Olympic sport and our Games are at the level of an Olympic Games. This was an important step forward for acrobatics."
Speaking on the legacy of the European Games and the benefits of the National Gymnastics Arena, he said the NGA is a state-of-the-art modern arena.
“I have been in this business for 13 years and this is a truly great venue. It represents a great opportunity for our athletes to train and get better results," he added.
"We will continue developing all types of athletes and I am confident our athletes will achieve better results in future games thanks to the National Gymnastics Arena," stressed the secretary general.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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