By Duncan Mackay

Denis Oswald head and shouldersMay 3 - Rowing is set to be included in the inaugural European Games at Baku in 2015 despite Denis Oswald, President of the sport's governing body, FISA, having originally been opposed to the event.

Oswald, a senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, has contacted Patrick Hickey, President of the European Olympic Committees (EOC), seeking rowing's involvement following pressure on him from national federations who want to be part of the Games.

Two years ago Oswald, then President of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), wrote to Hickey claiming he "could not support any project to create a EOC Games in the foreseeable future".

But now rowing looks ready to join the 17 sports already announced, with athletics and boxing also set to join the programme, as long as a suitable venue can be built.

"FISA President Denis Oswald has had several calls from European National Federations and National Olympic Committees encouraging him to make contact with Patrick Hickey, President of the European Association of National Olympic Committees, about rowing's possible inclusion in the European Games, in the first edition or later," Matt Smith, executive director of FISA, told insidethegames.

"Despite the proposed dates for the Games [June 2015], right in the middle of the extremely important Olympic qualification period for rowing, Denis Oswald has indicated that the sport of rowing is ready to consider a proposal for inclusion."

Rowing's inclusion in the Games would help boost the quality of the event as it is one of Europe's strongest Olympic sports.

At last year's Olympics in London 25 of the 42 medals were won by European countries, including eight of the 14 gold, with Britain finishing top of the medals table for the second consecutive Games.

Katherine Grainger right and Anna Watkins London 2012Katherine Grainger (right) and Anna Watkins on their way to victory in the doubles at London 2012, one of Olympicseight gold medals won by European rowers

FISA is now working with Baku 2015 to try to find a suitable venue to accommodate the sport.

"We understand that there is no established rowing venue in Baku and this was a major consideration for sports in these Games," said Smith.

"There is a lake on the west side of Baku that could possibly be developed for rowing and that would be a very positive development for rowing in Azerbaijan.

"Denis also indicated that rowing would consider a competition distance of less that the 'Olympic' distance of 2,000 metres, if that would make the competition possible.

"In any case, Denis has contacted Patrick and it was agreed that he would discuss this with the Organising Committee.

"We are awaiting the response."

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