October 20 - Baku is today marking the 600 days to go milestone to the European Games, being held for the first time ever in 2015 in the Azerbaijani capital.
The European Olympic Committees (EOC) multisport event is expected to attract 5,600 athletes from the continent's 49 Olympic nations to compete across 18 sport competitions, with swimming, diving, cycling, boxing, 3x3 basketball, beach soccer and gymnastics already confirmed.
It is anticipated that the European Games will be held every four years from 2015.
"The people of Baku and the whole of Azerbaijan are looking forward to welcoming athletes, officials, media and spectators from across Europe," Azad Rahimov, Azerbaijan's Minister of Youth and Sport, said.
"Our aim is to demonstrate the warmth and hospitality of Azerbaijan, the host city and its people and to show what we have to offer as a new destination for sport, business and tourism.
"Working with the European Olympic Committees and sporting federations, we will showcase sport in new formats and settings and put the European Games on the world stage, heralding a new major sporting and cultural event."
With 21 of the Games facilities, including the Crystal Hall - where the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012 took place, the new Baku Aquatics Centre and a 65,000-capacity stadium, already "well advanced", Baku 2015 says its preparations are on schedule.
Just yesterday, it was revealed that Baku is allocating AZN 6,019,000 (£4,767,689/$7,729,349/€5,648,459) of its 2014 draft state budget to the European Games.
Meanwhile, the Organising Committee claims the Athletes' Village will be "one of best accommodation and preparation facilities ever provided for elite competition athletes".
"The Olympic Village in Baku will have good infrastructure," Baku 2015 chief operating officer Jim Scherr said.
"All facilities for the First European Olympic Games will meet the highest requirements and will be of high quality.
"Several operations have been finished.
"If to take into account that we still have two-and-a-half years, then you can witness for the next three or four months that a big part of the work will be completed.
"Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done.
"So, the operations are being conducted on a tight schedule.
"Considering that little time left before the competitions, of course, we will rapidly continue working."
EOC President Patrick Hickey, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, also expressed his confidence in Baku 2015's preparations.
"Great Games start with great venues," he said.
"Baku's venues will be among the most spectacular ever assembled for a major international sporting event and will provide a thrilling atmosphere for athletes, spectators, broadcasters and viewers alike.
"With 600 days to go, Azerbaijan is well on schedule to deliver a high quality experience for Europe's Olympic athletes and nations, and the continent's first major pan-European multisport event."
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