A grandeur event of a global scale is approaching. First European Games are to take place in Baku between 12 and 28 June 2015. Since the decision to organize the first ever European games was made at the General Assembly of the European Olympic Committee in the end of 2012 Azerbaijan were pushed for time for relevant preparations. In spite of the time constraints the country has braved the difficulties and taken over this extremely difficult challenge, when nation yet bears burden of an unresolved conflict and extreme difficulties stemming from it. Dynamic socio-economic development of Azerbaijan has turned it also into an attractive sports destination.
Development of sports is one of priority tasks in Azerbaijan. Each district center, not saying the capital city, has modern multisport facilities: swimming pools, indoor and outdoor stadia and other recreational buildings, which in total contributes to the sound physical upbringing of the young citizens and overall sustainable development of sports in the country.
Lately Azerbaijan has hosted many international events, including the European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship held in 2009 and 2014 in Baku. Newly built winter sports facilities in Gusar and Gabala are already attracting tourists from around the world.
The first European Games are being hosted in the pearl of the Caspian – Baku – ancient city that exquisitely brings together rich cultural heritage with modernity. Newly built buildings – palaces, hotels and sports facilities – are the embodiment of aspirations and cherished ideas of contemporary Azerbaijan. While respecting and preserving its rich historic legacy the country boldly looks to the future and the country is not burdened with any sort of cultural or religious prejudice. Therefore the first ever European games need to be viewed as the realisation of the vision inspired by good will.
It is worthy to quote the words of the President of Azerbaijan His Excellency Ilham Aliyev from his speech at the opening ceremony of the Third Inter-Cultural Forum held on 18-19 May 2015 in Baku. He said: “Though it is a big challenge to organize the games, but the decision of the European Olympic Committee to organize the games, first time in the world, in Azerbaijan was one of the wisest decisions of the recent past. We will bring together more than 6 000 European athletes. These games are not only a big sports event, but also an event of friendship and partnership and also an opportunity for us to demonstrate our country and our hospitality.”
The Games are an outstanding event not only for Azerbaijan and European sports, but also for the entire Turkic world. It is very pleasing that a Turkic country has braved the difficulties and taken over this extremely difficult a challenge.
Turks, by nature, are the people that reject cultural or religious seclusion. For, Turkic peoples and communities stretching between the Pacific and the Atlantic practice various religions: Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Tengrian beliefs and they have rich racial and cultural appearances and features.
Leading mainly nomadic way of life Turks throughout the history were closer to horse and other traditional sports. Rich literary legacy of the Turks – dastans (eposes) - such as Manas, Alpamys, Qobylandy, Er Targhyn, Korogly and Dede Gorgut praise chivalry, bravery and generosity. Physical might and spiritual richness were used to be adored qualities. Currently along with the development of contemporary types of sports traditional sports are also experiencing their rebirth. Now there are regular competitions in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey on çovgan, jeered, kökpar, qyz quu, audaryspaq (wrestling on horse), jamby atu, asyq atu, togyzqumalaq, various types of horse racing, surpapaq, çiling-ağac, toguz korgool, ordo and others. Hunting with eagles and falcons has also been reborn and now is gaining acclaim worldwide.
Organization of prominent sport events in the Turkic speaking countries during the last years proves to be an international recognition of their vast potential to further promote peace and development through sport across the world. Thus, in 2011 Kazakhstan hosted Seventh Winter Asian Games (Asiada), while Twenty Fifth Winter Universiade and Seventeenth Mediterranean Games were held in Turkey accordingly in 2011 and 2013. In addition to the above, numerous positions of Istanbul and Baku as one of the top candidate cities for Summer Olympic Games, bids of Almaty to host Winter Olympic Games in 2022, as well as forthcoming 2017 Winter Universiade and Islamic Solidarity Games in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan reaffirms a consistent stand of Turkic states for maintaining global security and public consent in the world.
First World Nomadic Games held in 2014 on the shores of Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan has been a landmark event for Turkic nations and communities to be a good example of intention to contribute to revival and preservation of national culture and sporting traditions. First ever Nomad Games gave impetus to strengthening of integration and unity of Turkic world and rebirth ancestral rich traditions, spiritual self-awareness and historical memory of Turks.
It is well-known that hosting global sports event primarily contributes to the development of infrastructure in a host country. At the preparatory stage Azerbaijan was focused on construction of multi-sport facilities and transport infrastructure at the same time. There has been a mass campaign on the all-out propagation of healthy lifestyle and youth education and transmission of the achievements of sustainable development to future generations.
Azerbaijan intends to continue noble undertakings. The country is planning to host Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017 and is one of the co-hosts of European Football Championship in 2020.