January 21 - British Olympic Association chairman Sebastian Coe today visited Baku, host city of the inaugural European Games in 2015.
Among the people Coe held talks with was Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (pictured above right), who last week appointed his wife Mehriban Aliyeva as head of the Organising Committee for the Games.
Coe was visiting Baku in his role as chairman of London 2012 to inspect the International Inspiration programme, which was launched in Azerbaijan three years ago in in partnership with UK Sport, British Council and UNICEF.
But local officials were keen to talk to Coe about preparations for the Games in 2015, which were awarded to Baku last month by the European Olympic Committees at its annual meeting in Rome.
"These Games will be a great gift not only for athletes but also for children and young people in Azerbaijan.
"The Games must inspire youth and engage them in sports."
Baku put themselves forward to host the European Games after their campaign for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics ended in failure when they failed to make the shortlist, their second consecutive unsuccessful bid.
But it is expected that they will try again for 2024.
"Hosting the European Games could be practice for the organisation of the Summer Olympic Games," said Coe.
"But Azerbaijan should approach this step by step.
"But what I saw in Baku is fantastic."
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