Exclusive: European Games proposing own athletics event if governing body refuse to sign up

Wednesday, 01 May 2013
By Duncan Mackay

Anna Chicherova London 2012May 1 - Azerbaijani officials are planning to hold a special invitational athletics meeting as part of the inaugural European Games in Baku in 2015 because the continent's governing body is currently refusing to sign up to the event.

European Athletics have so far declined to commit themselves to being part of the Games, which is expected to feature more than 6,000 from 49 countries, claiming it would interfere with the 2015 European Team Championships, which is due to take place in Cheboksary, Russia, on June 20 and 21, and would breach their conctractual obligations.

It was announced yesterday that the European Games are due to take place between June 12 and 28 and European Olympic Committees President Patrick Hickey claimed that he hoped to finalise discussions with athletics in the near future.

But if European Athletics continue to resist attempts to get involved, Baku 2015 officials are proposing that they hold a four-day competition starting on June 25, featuring all the Olympic track and field disciplines and the combined events, marathon and walking competitions, running through to the final day of the Games.

The top 16 athletes in the track events and 12 in the field would be invited to participate with Baku 2015 covering the cost of their travel and accommodation.

Among those who would expect to be invited are Britain's double Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 metres champion Mo Farah and Russia's London 2012 high jump gold medallist Anna Chicherova (pictured top).

Mo Farah crossing line to win London 2012 10000mDouble Olympic champion Mo Farah would be among the top athletes to take part in the European Games if a plan by Baku 2015 goes ahead

Baku would be able to do this simply by applying for a permit to hold an international meeting. 

The proposal is possible partly because, for the first time, the United States Championships, which double as their trials for the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, will not be held on the same weekend as the European Team Championships and are instead scheduled for the final weekend in June.

That ensures that there will be no major grand prix or Diamond League events during that period, leaving it free for Baku 2015 to stage their competition.

"Nothing has changed," a spokesman for European Athletics told insidethegames.

"We have existing contracts and obligations with our partners, which run until the end of 2015.

"Twenty fifteen is too soon for us but our President Hansjörg Wirz is open to such an event in the future if it brings additional benefits to our sport, but not if it weakens it."

The EOC declined to comment.

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