The Netherlands was today officially awarded the 2019 European Games, which will be the second edition after the inaugural event in Baku, due to start next month.
The unanimous decision to approve the nationwide bid from The Netherlands was taken at an Extraordinary General Assembly of the European Olympic Committees here.
It followed a meeting on Thursday (May 14) when the EOC's ruling Executive Committee decided to put forward The Netherlands as the only candidate.
Patrick Hickey, President of the EOC, claimed to have held discussions with six interested cities but did not want to involve any of them in an expensive bid process which is why discussions were held in private before a single candidate was identified.
“The Dutch have put together a very exciting proposition for the 2019 European Games which fits perfectly with the EOC’s strategic approach and prioritises flexibility; sustainability; and world-class quality," said Hickey.
I am delighted that the EOC membership agrees and has ratified in principle the Netherlands’ proposed hosting concept for 2019.
“I am now very much looking forward to working with them to continue developing their plans.”
But a final agreement will not be concluded until the Dutch Olympic Committee*Dutch Sports Federation (NOC*NSF) have held further discussions with the Dutch Government.
The Games are set to be a much less expensive affair than Baku 2015, which is due to open on June 12 and is being used by Azerbaijan as major brand-building project.
The preliminary budget for the overall project for the event in The Netherlands is an estimated €127 million £92 million/$145 million), which includes a €27 million (£20 million/$31 million) contribution from the Government and a further €50 million (£37 million/$57 million) from local authorities across The Netherlands who would stage events.
Under the proposals presented by the NOC*NSF here today, events would be staged across nine Dutch cities in five Provinces.
There are planned to be only 15 sports, five less than at Baku 2015.
But they are likely to include equestrian and roller sports, which are not part of the programme in the Azerbaijan capital.
Gerard Dielessen, secretary general of the NOC*NSF, promised a "cost-effective Games" when presenting The Netherlands' plans.
He promised that no new facilities would be built and they would utilise current venues, including the Olympic Stadium constructed for the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam and the Pieter Van Hoogenad Swim Stadium in Eindhoven.
There will also be no Athletes' Village with competitors staying in hotels in the cities where they are competing.
"It's nice to see that the EOC is enthusiastic about the idea of organising the European Games in the Netherlands," said Dielessen.
After this ruling by the EOC I am even more convinced that our idea of organising these European Games together with a large number of Municipalities, Provinces, Federations and the Government are on the right track.
"It is now important to clarify our plans and make sure that we have the answers to every question we get asked.
"We will hold discussions over the coming weeks now with the Ministry of Health and the Mayors of Municipalities and Provinces to try to reach a positive decision.
"I have every confidence in them."
Hickey claimed that the EOC would not be involved in the negotiations between the NOC*NSF and the Dutch Government.
"Discussions are ongoing," said Hickey.
"But we won't interfere with those.
"It is not up to us to dictate to the Government or NOC*NSF."
Hickey revealed that there was no timescale on when an agreement needed to be reached but if talks did break down they would turn to one of the other cities who were interested in hosting the Games, who included Istanbul.
Hickey claimed he did not fear the uniqueness of the Games would be lost by fact there will be no Athletes' Village.
"We examined that, but The Netherlands is a not a huge country.
"It is small and compact and easy to get round.
"We would make sure we have events where everybody comes together."
Hickey claimed that the decision to make the event a nationwide Games was an example of the EOC are prepared to be flexible.
"We want the Games to fit to a city or a country without making too many barriers in there way," he said.
May 2015: Dutch multi-city bid to be officially proposed as host of 2019 European Games
April 2015: Dutch confirm "nationwide" bid for 2019 European Games
January 2015: Exclusive: Surprise seventh candidate for 2019 European Games emerges
December 2014: Dutch set to bid for 2019 European Games in at least two cities
November 2014: Six candidates for 2019 European Games as timetable announced but identities will remain a secret