Chefs de Mission from across Europe were in Baku last week for a crucial seminar ahead of next year's inaugural European Games.
Officials from the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of Europe were briefed on Games preparation and progress, took part in venue tours, and enjoyed a spectacular fireworks display on the evening of June 11 to celebrate One Year To Go to the first European Games.
A Gala Dinner on June 12 at the stunning Buta Palace marked the culmination of a busy and productive week for the Chefs, where they received official invitations to the Games from Azad Rahimov, Azerbaijan's Minister of Youth and Sports, Chief Executive of Baku 2015 and Patrick Hickey, President of the European Olympic Committees (EOC).
Azad Rahimov, Azerbaijan's Minister of Youth and Sports and Chief Executive of Baku 2015, said, "It was an honour to welcome the Chefs de Mission from all over Europe to Baku last week.
"The Seminar gave us the opportunity to show the NOCs the excellent progress we have made as an organisation in recent months as we prepare to host these historic Games. Our commitment to the teams and athletes is unwavering and it was an important opportunity to demonstrate that to the Chefs de Mission," Azad Rahimov added.
The Chefs de Mission had the opportunity to discuss the level of services being prepared by the Baku European Games Operation Committee (BEGOC) for their athletes, and visited the Athletes Village for the first time while it was in full operational mode, hosting competitors from the European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships.
Patrick Hickey added, "The first ever European Games Chefs de Mission seminar was a great success. Last week's meetings gave the EOC and BEGOC more of the insights we need to create the strongest possible European Games product for 2015 and set the highest standard for future editions."
"Now that they have spent some time in the beautiful city of Baku, there is a real confidence amongst the NOCs of Europe that Baku 2015 will be innovative, technically excellent and - above all - a fantastic experience for NOCs and their teams," Hickey said.
Individual meetings for the Chefs de Mission were also held with the Baku 2015 NOC Services Team, ensuring any particular questions they had were acknowledged and addressed.
James Macleod, Director of Athlete Services and Operations at Baku 2015, said, "The Chefs de Mission Seminar gave us the perfect opportunity to connect with the NOCs of Europe and explain to them the service levels we have in place for the Games."
"We are very satisfied with the feedback we have received from these Games experts and are confident that we have the correct plans in place to deliver a highly successful, athlete-focused event," James Macleod added.