April 17 - Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has officially opened the new National Gymnastics Arena in Baku, designed to be one of the best centres of its kind in the world and which will be one of the centrepieces of the inaugural European Games next year.
The President was accompanied at the opening by his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva, the head of Baku 2015, and Azerbaijan's Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov as he cut the ribbon on the new Arena.
The event is due to stage its first major event when it hosts the 30th European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships on June 13 until 15.
More than 30 countries are expected to take part in the Championships when competitors will be housed in the new Olympic Village built for the 2015 European Games.
Before the official opening of the Arena, European Gymnastics Union President Georges Guelzec had praised the facility.
The Arena, which can seat between 5,000 and 10,000 spectators depending on its configuration, also includes a hotel as well as a press centre, first aid station, dance hall and gym, doping control rooms, offices, shops and cafes.
The Arena is set within the 24,000 square metres of surrounding landscape designed to complement the building and includes an underground car park capable of parking at least 300 vehicles.
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