With exactly 500 days to go until the Opening Ceremony of the inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, organisers said today that preparations were on target to host a spectacular festival of sport that unifies people across Europe.
The European Games in Baku next year will be the fulfilment of a long-held aspiration by the European Olympic Committees to stage a major, pan-continental, multi-sport event for the Olympic nations and athletes of Europe.
Beginning this week, Baku 2015 organisers will begin sending sports qualification information to the 49 National Olympic Committees of Europe that will participate in the Baku 2015 Games.
Organisers also announced that no fewer than seven sports on the Baku 2015 Games competition programme will use the Games as a qualifying platform for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. These include Cycling, Shooting, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Triathlon and Volleyball (Beach), while other Baku 2015 sports may also be added to the Olympic qualification list.
There are currently 18 sports on the programme for the inaugural European Games, and more than 5,400 athletes are expected to participate.
Senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) member and president of the European OIympic Committees, Patrick Hickey, said Baku is well placed to deliver a top-level sporting competition at the Games next year.
"I wish Baku well as it enters the final 500 days of Games preparations, and I am confident that Baku will stage a high quality sporting event that will make Europe proud. We congratulate everyone involved in Baku 2015 for reaching this important milestone, and for the continued progress in preparing to stage a spectacular sporting event and experience for the athletes and nations of Europe."
Azerbaijan Minister of Youth And Sports Azad Rahimov, who is Chief Executive of the Baku 2015 Operating Committee, said that each passing day brings the responsibility and honour of staging the first European Games in Baku into sharper focus, and emphasised that new infrastructure and ways of working for the Games will provide long term legacies that will transform the host city and country.
"The large scale building projects for the Games will provide benefits for our cities, communities and young people for decades to come - from the new airport to the 13 transport upgrades to boost the underground and bus systems, while the new world-class venues will inspire more young people to participate in sport and provide a new home for sport in Europe," he said.
Minister Rahimov said the involvement of local Azerbaijani planners, service providers and companies in diverse areas of Games preparations will leave a valuable legacy of local knowledge and experience across many sectors, from business and technology to tourism, culture and the creative industries.
"This will help to further establish Baku and Azerbaijan as a dynamic new destination in Europe for sports, business, tourism and culture," he said.
Detailed planning to ensure local Azerbaijani residents and communities can participate in this once-in-a-lifetime event - the largest the country has hosted - through ticketing, volunteering, culture and other key Games programmes is also well underway.
Organisers said that construction remains on target for Games venues -- including the Athletes Village, already regarded as one of the best accommodation and preparation facilities for elite athletes -- and that some venues will be ready for test events as early as this year.
"Good progress is being made and momentum is continuing to build, but there will be no complacency among our teams," said Jim Scherr, Chief Operating Officer of the Baku 2015 Operating Committee. "There is a great deal that still needs to be done during the next 500 days to fulfil our responsibilities to the European Olympic Committees, the people of Azerbaijan and the athletes of Europe, but we are pleased with our progress to date."About Baku 2015, the first European Games
Baku 2015 will be the first ever European Games and will involve more than 5,400 competitors, from the 49 Olympic nations of Europe, across 18 sports. The Games are owned, organised, and regulated by the European Olympic Committees (EOC). They were created at the EOC General Assembly on 9th December 2012 in Rome, Italy, when the overwhelming majority of the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of Europe voted for the creation of the European Games. It was at this General Assembly that the NOCs awarded the inaugural Games, again by overwhelming majority, to the city of Baku, Azerbaijan.
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