By Daniel Etchells in the Montafon Valley in Austria

Patrick Hickey, President of the European Olympic Committees, is not getting carried away with the success of the first-ever Olympic event to be co-hosted by two nations ©ÖOC/GEPAPatrick Hickey, President of the European Olympic Committees (EOC), has claimed he will reserve his judgment on the ease of hosting an Olympic Games in two different countries.

That is despite the success of the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg and Liechtenstein. 

Last month, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) endorsed the idea of sharing future Olympic events between cities and countries through its Agenda 2020 reform process.

The ongoing winter edition of the EYOF is the first-ever Olympic event to be co-hosted by two nations.

Hickey admits it has been a great experiment but doubts the level of harmony between the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of Austria and Liechtenstein will be replicated between some of the world's larger bordering nations when it comes to bidding for the IOC's flagship event.

"It was much easier to do it on an event of this size," said Hickey at a press conference here in Schruns.

"But I think that for bigger Games, it will take a lot of practice because there is a unique relationship between Liechtenstein and Austria - the areas are so close together, and the cooperation was so good.

"We never had a doubt about the NOCs, because the two NOCs have been cooperating for many, many years."

EOC President Patrick Hickey says the European Youth Olympic Festival in Vorarlberg and Liechtenstein has been a "great experiment" for co-hosting Olympic events ©ÖOC/GEPAEOC President Patrick Hickey says the European Youth Olympic Festival in Vorarlberg and Liechtenstein has been a "great experiment" for co-hosting Olympic events ©ÖOC/GEPA

He added: "When it comes to two very big countries, like France and Italy for example, it might be a different story.

"But look, it had to start, it did start, it was a great success here and I hope that this will give President [Thomas] Bach of the IOC the enthusiasm to push further his Agenda 2020 programme."

During the press conference, Hickey was also asked about the fact that the European Union's (EU) lack of funding for the EYOF. 

The 69-year-old responded by saying it's "a shame" and vowed that the EOC will push hard to ensure that all future editions of the event will be funded whenever they take place in an EU country.

Hickey is encouraged by the EU's new Erasmus+ programme, which provides funding for youth activities among other things, but questioned the sporting decisions coming out of its main base of operations in Brussels.

"They don't realise that the only message that the citizens of the European Union countries respect is sport, and sport is a great unifier in every aspect of political life," he said. 

"Some of those people operating out of Brussels are quite extraordinary to say the least and we [the EOC] have an office in Brussels as well as our head offices in Rome.

"We're engaged full-time in trying to prevent them bringing out crazy legislation that has an impact on sport throughout the 28 European Union countries because it's not only the 28 countries that are affected; the rest of the countries in Europe are impacted in some way or another by the legislation out of Brussels."

Summing up the significance of the EYOF, Raffaele Pagnozzi, EOC secretary general, predicted they will have a lasting legacy on the Olympic Movement. 

"These Games will not only remain in our memory but we shall in the future consider very, very attentively what happened at the EYOF - above all for the two countries in the same Organising Committee," said the Italian. 

"I think this experience could help not only the EYOF, but also some other international sport events to have a new approach to organisation."

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