By Rasana Gasimova
Hosting major sports events benefits Azerbaijan, contributing to the development of human resources, infrastructure and tourism potential of the country, Minister of Youth and Sports Azad Rahimov has said.
Addressing the 2020 Conference on the Benefits of Hosting Major Sports Events held by Baku City Circuit (BCC), promoter of the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, in Baku, Rahimov noted that while 600 and 46 foreign experts were involved in the organization of the first European Games and the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games, respectively, last year's summer European Youth Olympic Festival was held exclusively by local specialists.
He added that over the past ten years, prestigious competitions in most sports have been held in Azerbaijan, noting that in 2019 alone, Baku hosted a total of 250 international competitions, 60 of them being international.
Rahimov noted that Azerbaijani specialists also worked in the Operational Committee of the Asian Games and the 2nd European Games. He also emphasized the work of the volunteers.
“Some 17,000 volunteers were involved in the first European Games. It was after this that a new stage in the development of the volunteer movement began in the country,” he noted.
Rahimov said that the country also plans to host four matches of Euro 2020, the Judo Grand Slam tournament, eight prestigious gymnastics competitions and other tournaments.
Speaking at the event, AFFA Executive Vice President Elkhan Mammadov said that as many as 38,000 fans visited the country to watch UEFA Europa League final in May 2019. Mammadov noted that some 111,000 tickets to UEFA EURO 2020 to be held in Baku in June 2020 have already been purchased by foreigners.
Turkey, Switzerland and Wales will compete at the Baku Olympic Stadium, which will host four Euro-2020 matches. Italy will play in the home arena. All three teams will participate in a training session in Baku prior to the games, according to the agreement with the representatives of the teams,” he added.
Mammadov noted that about 200,000 foreigners are expected to visit Baku for the competition.
“We would like to see Baku host the UEFA Champions League finals in the future. We have already hosted two of the Europe’s three biggest football events. We have a great arena - Baku Olympic Stadium. I believe that the UEFA Champions League final will be organized at this stadium,” he said.
The Country Managing Partner of PwC Azerbaijan, Movlan Pashayev, presented key findings of the economic impact report of Formula 1 Grand Prix.
He said that besides short-term economic impacts, every major event also has intangible impacts associated with the wider socio-economic goals of the host city and the country, noting that such benefits support the longer-term development of the city, country and even the entire region.
“In that sense, Baku has been and will be successful in holding mega sport events. At the end of the day, better health, satisfaction, motivation and education will trickle done in productivity and efficiency for the whole economy and country,” Pashayev said.
Note that Baku first hosted F1 in 2016, with its street circuit running in part along the shoreline of the city’s historic center, classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It soon grabbed the attention of motor fans and for the last two years running has been voted as the best race of the season in the annual survey by the F1 Fan Voice community.
Being a host to the one of the fastest street circuits in Formula 1 racing, Baku gathers more viewers from year to year. This year, Azerbaijan will host the competition for the fifth time. In February 2019, Baku City Circuit revealed that Azerbaijan Grand Prix extended the contract with Formula 1 until 2023.
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2017 entered the top ten best Formula 1 races held in the last decade.
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