Azerbaijan`s capital, Baku, started the countdown to the first ever European Games on October 20, celebrating 600 days to the opening ceremony on 12 June 2015.
The European Games will be a multi-sport event for elite athletes from the 49 Olympic nations of Europe and will be held every four years. The Games are owned and regulated by the European Olympic Committees. With Baku 2015 expecting around 5,600 competitors across 18 sports, the 2015 European Games is set to be a major event in the international sporting calendar.
The host city`s preparations are on schedule, with construction and structural planning for many of the 21 stadia and facilities for the Baku 2015 Games well advanced. Venues for Baku 2015 will include the iconic Crystal Hall, which hosted Eurovision 2012, a new Baku Aquatics Centre and a modern, multi-purpose 65,000 seat stadium. The construction of the Athletes Village is also highly advanced. The village is already regarded by experienced Games planners and consultants as one of best accommodation and preparation facilities ever provided for elite competition athletes.
Other landmarks such as the Flame Towers and Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid`s Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center will provide a spectacular backdrop to the sport.
According to the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan: “The people of Baku and the whole of Azerbaijan are looking forward to welcoming athletes, officials, media and spectators from across Europe. Our aim is to demonstrate the warmth and hospitality of Azerbaijan, the host city and its people and to show what we have to offer as a new destination for sport, business and tourism. Working with the European Olympic Committees and sporting federations, we will showcase sport in new formats and settings and put the European Games on the world stage, heralding a new major sporting and cultural event.”
Events confirmed to date for Baku 2015 include established Olympic sports such Swimming, Diving, Cycling, Boxing and Gymnastics as well as new formats for sports such as Basketball 3x3 and beach soccer, providing an exciting blueprint for future major sporting events.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Patrick Hickey, President of the European Olympic Committees, says: “Great Games start with great venues. Baku`s venues will be among the most spectacular ever assembled for a major international sporting event and will provide a thrilling atmosphere for athletes, spectators, broadcasters and viewers alike. With 600 days to go, Azerbaijan is well on schedule to deliver a high quality experience for Europe`s Olympic athletes and nations, and the continent`s first major pan-European multi-sport event.”
Baku is the largest city on the Caspian Sea with a population of over 2 million. Once an important staging post on the Silk Road, it sits at the crossroads between Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Today, Baku combines modern, award winning architecture with an Old City that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Azerbaijan is a multicultural society with a tradition of tolerance and warm hospitality.