The Washington Post has published an article titled “Organizers: We’ve proved skeptics wrong on European Games”.
The article says: “Organizers of the inaugural European Games believe they have defied the skeptics who questioned the need for another multi-sports event in an already-crowded calendar. Baku is in the final months of preparing to host Europe’s first Olympic-style continental games from June 12-28 in the Azerbaijani capital along the Caspian Sea.”
“When we got permission to do a feasibility study for these games six or eight years ago, many laughed and joked and thought this would never happen,” The Washington Post quoted Patrick Hickey, president of the European Olympic Committees as saying. “Now we’re in the final straight.”
“Hickey was the driving force behind the creation of the European Games, which is patterned after established continental events like the Asian Games, Pan American Games and All-Africa Games. With Europe already having top-level continental championships in athletics, swimming, basketball, soccer and gymnastics, doubters have wondered whether there is a place for a European Games,”
“There was a degree of skepticism about the games at the beginning, but we have addressed all those points,” said Simon Clegg, a former British Olympic official who serves as chief operating officer for Baku’s organizing committee. “There is now a universal enthusiasm for this event across the more than 50 European NOCs.”
“I am sure there are still some skeptics out there,” Clegg added. “They will be overcome when they see the scale of this event.”
More than 6,000 athletes from about 50 countries will be competing in 20 sports in 253 medal events. Eleven of the sports will offer qualifying spots for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“We are confident these games will be a big success and put Azerbaijan on the map as an organizer of major sports and multi-sports events,” said Spyros Capralos, chairman of the coordination panel.
Azerbaijan officials believe the games could be a springboard for a Baku bid for the 2024 Olympics. Baku bid for the 2016 and 2020 Games but failed to make the short list of finalists. The deadline for submission of 2024 bids to the IOC is Sept. 15.