The inaugural European Games will signal the beginning of a new era for sport on the continent, the Head of the Irish Mission for Baku 2015 First European Games, Dermot Henihan believes.
In an interview with InsideTheGames.biz,
Henihan said the addition of the European Games to the multi sports games calendar brings Europe and the Olympic Movement in Europe a huge amount of respect and a new found significance.
"I have the confidence that the games will be successful and will establish themselves in time to be a flagship continental games," he said.
Regarding the question of holding the games in Baku, Henihan said that for 2015, Baku has a substantial amount of the prepared infrastructure and the forward plans for many new facilities and refurbished facilities.
"They are a city that could take on a massive challenge in a relatively short period of time," he said.
"I have observed the development over the past 15 months in Baku, the preparations of new and refurbished facilities, the creation of new roads and infrastructure, the ordering of new transport for the city etc. From my close observations, I have every confidence that all will be ready and all will be to a top standard."
Henihan went on to add that he was surprised to see the first edition of the games expand to 19 sports.
"I was surprised to see the first edition of the games expand to 19 sports and I am sure that in the future editions there will be programme changes. Of course we all have our favourite sports and when they are not on the list we are disappointed. However, all multi sport games and host cities cannot provide all the sports that may wish to be involved. We must accept the final decisions and 19 sports for this the first edition is more than enough,"
He also said that Azerbaijanis are most welcoming and people that want their country to be better known in a European context.
"It is a relatively newly independent country that is rapidly growing," Henihan said. "I think it is good for the European Games to start off in a growing country and yes, I suppose it is symbolic and will give Baku, Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani people a new exposure across Europe and the world as a country that can host such a multi sport event successfully."
Henihan also added that the European Games are new, and like everything new, there will be a curiosity and interest.
"I expect that because there are 19 sports and it is the first European Games the interest will be quite significant," he said.
Baku 2015 will be the first ever European Games, an exciting and innovative new multi sport event for the continent that will take place from June 12 until June 28 2015.
There will be a total of 19 sports at Baku 2015: 16 Olympic sports and three non-Olympic sports. More than 6,000 athletes are expected to represent their nations over the 17 days of competition.
Nine of the sports will offer qualification opportunities for the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics in 2016. Those sports include archery, athletics, beach volleyball, cycling, shooting, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo and triathlon.
Baku was awarded the Games by the European Olympic Committees (EOC) in December 2012. The Baku European Games Operations Committee (BEGOC) will organise and run the Games in co-operation with the EOC.