March 3 - Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has promised to provide "the best possible venues" at the Baku 2015 European Games following a visit to the new Olympic Stadium site in the capital.
The nation's leader inspected the construction progress on the 65,000-capacity venue, which will host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies in June next year and is one of 21 new facilities being built for the inaugural continental Games.
"We want to provide the best possible venues and theatres of sport for the finest athletes of Europe at the Baku Games," Aliyev said.
"The magic and inspiration of athletes competing in spectacular venues unites people and inspires the youth, as we saw at Sochi ."
The President has also given the green light to a restoration project at Baku's Lake Boyuk Shor and redevelopment work in the surrounding areas.
Plans include the creation of a new waterfront setting, a promenade, roads and a bridge "to better connect the area with the rest of the city".
Baku also said the work would boost living conditions for local residents and is part of its vision "to turn the capital into one of the world's most beautiful and comfortable cities".
"The objective of the project is to improve the environmental, ecological and aesthetic condition of Lake Boyuk Shor in such a way that the lake has added value for the area in the future and, for the European Games and visitors," Aliyev said.
Meanwhile, Azad Rahimov, Azerbaijan's Minister for Youth and Sport, accompanied Aliyev on the visit and said Baku 2015 is working closely with the European Olympic Committees and its President Patrick Hickey, who is also an International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board member.
"The Baku Games will feature innovative sporting formats, fields of play and settings that will help to keep Europe at the forefront of sporting excellence and innovation, and unite people across Europe in a passionate celebration of the athletes and sport," Rahimov added.
The Baku 2015 Games, which are due take place from June 12 to 28, will feature athletes from all 49 Olympic nations of Europe and will also serve as a qualifying event in many sports for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
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