Baku, April 10, AZERTAC
“Huffington Post” website has issued an article titled “Hello Baku - The European Games Come to Azerbaijan”.
The article noted: “In just over three months, the streets of Baku, Azerbaijan will welcome athletes from across Europe in the first ever European games.
Great Britain will send its largest contingent of athletes since the Beijing Games of 2008. With the Rio Olympics to follow it presents an opportunity for Team GB to test their skills in 20 sports across 30 disciplines.
Of the sports listed above, 16 are Olympic events, as the other four events are new to the format (karate, basketball 3x3, beach soccer and sambo).
Due to an issue around sponsorship, judo at the European Games doubles for the event at the European Championship.
So who in Team GB is likely to grace the sporting stage in Baku? We will not know until April 23 but some expect to see Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams and London 2012 judo silver medallist Gemma Gibbons. Collectively, 160-170 athletes will represent Team GB across 21 sports and 14 disciplines.
Britain's first ever taekwondo gold medallist, Jade Jones has the unique honour of being an international Athlete Ambassador on top of competing in her discipline. With the superstar names on show from Team GB it demonstrates a coup for the first European Games but also the ordinary Azeri will enjoy the spectacle of competition more widely thanks to affordable ticket prices. The European Games will also attract 6,000 athletes from 50 European countries.
The opening ceremony intends to reflect a modern yet traditional slant on Azerbaijani culture. Dimitris Papaioannou, the artistic director for the opening ceremony, is perhaps best remembered for his work on the ceremonies at Athens 2004. A cast of over 6,000 will participate in the opening and closing ceremonies.
If the majesty of sporting competition was not enough than the city of Baku itself is full of religious and cultural histories. Take for example, the Dzhuma-Mechet minaret, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000 alongside the mausoleum of the famous astronomer Seida Bakuvi, the Palace of the Shīrvān-Shāhs, Maiden's Tower and a law court (Divan-Khan).
Others are using social media in preparation for the games under the hashtag #HelloBaku. One highlight of the London 2012 Olympics was the amazing effort of the volunteer 'Games Makers'. The European Games will follow that high standard with their own 'Flamekeepers'.
The former Chairman of the British Olympic Association, Simon Clegg, has been involved in organising the Games and the Organising Committee has made a point about ensuring openness, transparency and accountability as part of the process leading up to the Games. This has also involved a public bidding process in transactions that have ranged from the acquisition of sports venues to the acquisition of land for the venues.
In the background is a diverse workforce, from 43 different countries spanning five continents. 20,000 contractors are getting the city of Baku prepared for the games. But there is a wider legacy at stake. The Games Academy Programme seeks to ensure the citizens of Baku benefit from the sporting facilities for future events. There will also be 188 Games Academy graduates who will benefit in ways beyond sporting achievement. Allied to this, within Baku, the need for better infrastructure has meant that there will be a legacy of new transport links and better service based infrastructure. It will also put Baku on the map as a place where the best in sport will have a chance to compete and challenge the pervasive view that Azerbaijan is a 'distant ethnic place,' with oil and gas. It is much more than that.
After all, sport is unifying and translates across borders, languages, faiths and cultures, and Baku 2015 is part of a sporting calendar on the road to the next Olympics, all set in the backdrop in the unique city of Baku.”