Chef de Mission, Italy
1) Why has it taken so long for Europe to stage its first continental Games?
I think the main reason is down to the challenges for the European Federations in terms of the calendars for possible clashes with European Championships
2) What makes Baku the perfect host city to stage the inaugural European Games?
The beautiful facilities they have created to host the Games
3) How big do you think your team for Baku 2015 will be and how many sports will you be represented in?
We will try for a full team representing Italy in each sport with the exception of athletics, as there only countries competing in the Third League of the European Team Championships allowed and we are in the Super League. We expect a large team in Baku.
4) How important is it for the success and appeal of the European Games that some sports afford athletes the opportunity to qualify for Olympic Games?
It is really important. It enhances the chances to have the best athletes competing and to have a strong first edition of the European Games.
5) What is the significance of the Games for the European Olympic Movement and how confident are you that they will become sport's flagship event on the continent?
Europe was the only continent that did not have continental Games. A second strong Games will of course help to make sure that they become an important event.
6) How impressed have you been by the facilities to be used for the European Games and the work of Baku 2015 in ensuring their delivery and readiness?
I have been really impressed. The facilities are almost all completed and the Organising Committee is composed of very experienced and efficient staff who worked in former Olympic Games.
7) Are there any sports not represented that you would like to see in the European Games?
Not at the present time. Nineteen sports for the first edition is quite a good achievement.
8) How symbolic is it that the first ever European Games will take place in a country that has experienced a major re-birth of its own since gaining independence in 1991?
It is always important to link symbols to new starts.
9) How interested do you think the Italian public will be in the Games?
I believe the interest will grow closer to the Games and will be good.
10) What are you looking forward to most at Baku 2015?
Giving our athletes another chance to perform well and experience the "Olympic" atmosphere. And, hopefully, qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where possible.
Interview by Gary Anderson