Chef de Mission Germany
Germany's Chef de Mission Bernhard Schwank will be one of the most experienced administrators at the European Games in Baku and he has some interesting views on the importance of next year's event.
1) Why has it taken so long for Europe to stage its first continental Games?
Up until now there was no necessity. The strong National Federations carry out their individual European Championships. Now Europe is ready for a new event - a mega multi-sports event.
2) What makes Baku the perfect host city to stage the inaugural European Games?
Baku has the strong will and power and convincing commitment for the European Games. Baku is an ambitious sports city.
3) How big do you think your team for Baku 2015 will be and how many sports will you be represented in?
Germany will be represented in nearly all sports. According to the current estimation, Germany will participate with around 250 athletes. The qualification is still in process and will be finalised in April 2015.
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?
Yes, it is very important.
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?
The European Games will demonstrate the strength and variety of European athletes and will have the chance to strongly promote Olympic values in the European area in an innovative multi-sports event. We hope that the first edition will deliver a good basis for future editions to develop the European Games to be sport's flagship for the continent.
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?
We are deeply impressed. The Organising Committee does a great job having experienced people on board and being strongly supported by the Government. The competition venues are excellent.
7) Are there any sports not represented that you would like to see in the European Games?
More team sports and tennis.
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?
Young country - young people [50 per cent under the age of 30] - young voice - chance for innovation. There is a hope that the European Games will push the development of sports in the whole country.
9) How interested do you think the public in your country will be in the Games?
We are afraid that the public is not yet that interested. The first edition of the European Games has the chance and the challenge to convince the public and the media.
10) What are you looking forward to most at Baku 2015?
We expect a symbiosis of perfect organisation, strong competitions and emotional acceptance from the public. We hope that Azerbaijan will leave a special and unique mark on the first edition of the European Games.
Interview by Gary Anderson