By Duncan Mackay

Patrick Hickey European Games Coordination Commission visit April 29 2013April 30 - Beach football and 3x3 basketball will feature on the programme of the inaugural European Games at Baku in 2015, which will take place between June 12 and 28 that year, it was announced today.

Swimming has also been added, having not been included on the initial list of sports, but athletics is still notable by its absence.

Boxing still also has to agree to join the programme but if both eventually sign up there will be 19 sports, featuring more than 6,000 competitors, taking part at Baku 2015. 

The preliminary programme was published today following the conclusion of the first visit of the European Olympic Committee (EOC) Coordination Commision to the Azerbaijan capital to inspect early preparations.

The other sports included are archery, badminton, canoeing, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, judo, shooting, table tennis, taekwondo, triathlon, volleyball and wrestling, along with karate, the only non-Olympic sport included so far.

More could still be added later this year, with dance sport and sport climbing among those lobbying to be included.

EOC Coordination Commission Baku April 30 2013The EOC Coordination Commission held its first inspection of Baku 2015 since they were awarded the European Games last December

"We have been overwhelmed with the demand for places by European Federations for the European Games in 2015," said Patrick Hickey, President of the EOC.

"However, we have a clear long-term strategic vision for the European Games in terms of size and affordability and we have been very careful about the sports we have chosen.

"This has resulted in a very attractive sports programme for 2015 and a large number of sports are on the waiting list for the next European Games in 2019.

"We are still in discussions with the athletics and boxing federations which we hope to finalise in the coming weeks."

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, whose wife Mehriban is head of the Baku 2015 Organising Committee, promised that the Games would be memorable.

"We are going to organize these Games on the level of the summer Olympic Games," he said.

"The hostingof the European Games in Baku proves that the European heritage exists here for centuries.

"At the same, it shows that Azerbaijan can host not only the Eurovision song contest but also the European Games.

"One of our main goals is to create the atmosphere of comfort and safety for sportsmen, guests and tourists who visit Baku for the first time, for them to feel at ease and enjoy this wonderful international event."

Patrick Hickey with Baku 2015 chairEOC President Patrick Hickey holds talks with Mehriban Aliyev, Azerbaijan's First Lady, who is also head of the Organising Committee

Spyros Capralos, chairman of the EOC Coordination Commission, was impressed with Baku's early planning but warned that they are short of time to get everything ready.

"We have had two days of very productive meetings with the Local Organising Committee and are satisfied with the progress they have made since being awarded the Games in December 2012," he said.

"The sport facilities are world class and the Athletes Village is one of the best we have ever seen.

"These Games will be centred on the athletes and will create a new generation of stars for Europe.

"However, there is much work to be done, there are only two years left and the Coordination Commission will be closely monitoring the progress of Baku 2015 in the months ahead."

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