Baku to host first European Games in 2015
Saturday, 08 December 2012
December 8 - Baku was today chosen to host the inaugural European Games in 2015, the end of a long campaign to get the event added to the international calendar.
The decision to hold the Games was taken at the 41st European Olympic Committees (EOC) General Assembly, which was attended by 49 National Olympic Committees.
"I'm asbolutely thrilled that so many years of slogging has now come to fruition," EOC President Patrick Hickey told insidethegames after the proposal to hold the event was approved with 38 votes in favour, eight against and two absentions.
"A baby has been born.
"Now we've got to nurture it, look after it and make sure that the Games are a great success."
It brings Europe into line with other continents which already have regional competitions, such as the Asian Games and Pan American Games.
The idea for a European Games has been on the agenda for several years, since current International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge was head of the EOC more than a decade ago, but this is the first time that a vote had been held on the proposal.
Plans to hold a European Games when Rogge was President were shelved because feasability studies ruled that it was no practical.
But under Hickey, the proposal has been refined and developed during the past four years.
Up to 7,000 athletes are expected to take part in 15 sports and two non-Olympic sports.
A total of 13 sports have already been confirmed for the Games, which are expected to take place in June.
They are archery, badminton, boxing, canoeing, fencing, handball, judo, rugby sevens, shooting, taekwondo, table tennis, triathlon and volleyball.
Negotiations are currently taking place with LEN, the governing body for European swimming, and the European Union of Gymnastics with EOC officials optimistic that both will commit themselves to the Games.
But things could prove trickier to get athletics, the Olympics biggest sport, to pledge their commitment to the Games.
The European Athletics Association (EAA) have already voted against the participation of its members.
There is a growing belief, though, within the EOC that now the Games are a reality that the EAA will be forced to change its stance.
"We''re in great talks with athletics," said Hickey.
"The situation is that we respect greatly that they have their plans and sponsors in place up until 2016.
"So we continue to talk to them but we would certainly go ahead without athletics, if it comes to that, although we hope it doesn't.
"I think we will find some solution."
The European Games will be held every four years with the first edition taking place in the capital of Azerbaijan, which was the sole bidder.
Baku had bid unsuccessfully for the 2016 and 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, failing to make the shortlist on each occasion.
"This is a historic moment in the history of the Olympic movement in Europe," said Chingiz Huseynzade, the vice-president of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan.
One moment of dissent to their candidature came from the National Olympic Committee of Armenia, who asked not to vote as the two countries remain involved in a dispute over independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh region following a six-year war between 1988 and 1994.