Sambo has been included on the sports programme at Minsk 2019 ©FIAS

Sambo will feature at the European Games after being included as one of 16 sports at Minsk 2019, but aquatics will not be at on the second edition of the multi-sport event.

The European Olympic Committees (EOC) confirmed here today that athletics would be a central part of the programme, with an agreement having been reached in principle to have a “modern concept” of the sport included at the Games.

On the list includes sambo, which also featured at the 2015 Games in Baku.

Alongside sambo and athletics, archery, badminton, boxing, canoe sprint, cycling, gymnastics, karate, judo and shooting are also on the programme.

Both beach soccer and beach volleyball have also been included, along with 3x3 basketball, table tennis and wrestling.

The sport programme is similar to the inaugural Games, which took place in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku in 2015, where 20 sports were contested.

Aquatics, fencing, taekwondo and triathlon were contested in Baku, but will not feature at Minsk 2019.

Weightlifting, which did not feature at Baku 2015, was believed to have been considered for the Games but has not made the cut.

Acting EOC President Janez Kocijančič confirmed to insidethegames that the of the 16 sports on the programme, 11 will serve as Olympic qualification events.

There had been doubts over athletics and swimming’s participation at the Games, as both of which were of low quality in Baku.

Athletics was a combined European Games and European Athletics Team Championships Third League competition, while swimming was for junior competitors only.

Street competition is due to feature as part of an innovation athletics format ©Getty Images
Street competition is due to feature as part of an innovation athletics format ©Getty Images

Svein Arne Hansen, President of European Athletics, told insidethegames earlier this year he would hold talks with organisers in order to have more athletics competitions part of the event.

The Norwegian stated European Athletics were working with the organisers on delivering an innovative format for athletics competition at the Games.

An agreement has been reached in principle for athletics to feature and will include street competitions, but Kocijančič confirmed swimming would not feature.

“We are in agreement with European Athletics that athletics will come with full force,” Kocijančič told insidethegames.

“We will mainly concentrate on runs, to jumps and to some elements of a modernisation of athletics, street athletics that youth like.

“We will try to come with a pretty modern concept of athletics.

“In Baku there were two sports which came with the second quality level of sport, one of those was aquatics.

“We didn’t come together and this is also a very expensive sport because you need a lot of swimming pools, so this time they are not in the programme.”

Minsk was confirmed as host of the Games at the EOC General Assembly in the city in October.

The EOC had been searching for a host city since The Netherlands withdrew on the eve of Baku 2015, with Russia then dropping out of the running after the International Olympic Committee warned they would not support events there following allegations of state-sponsored doping.

The decision to host it in Minsk, though, was not unanimous with Denmark and Norway voting against it while five others, including Great Britain, abstained.

An EOC delegation led by Hellenic Olympic Committee President Spyros Capralos, visited proposed competition venues including the Minsk Arena, the Chizhovka Arena, the Dinamo Stadium, Football Manege, the Minsk Sports Palace and the Palova Arena last week.

An update was provided to the EOC Executive Board here today, as their second meeting of the year.

EOC officials have expressed their confidence in the Games venues, but upgrades are expected to be made to the proposed Athletes’ Village.

Junior level aquatics featured at Baku 2015, but the sport will not be present in Minsk ©Getty Images
Junior level aquatics featured at Baku 2015, but the sport will not be present in Minsk ©Getty Images

“Where we had some concerns – we resolved the matter – was they have chosen to have the Athletes’ Village in the modern centre, where the students live," Kocijančič said.

“It has to be adapted, with additional investment, and it has to be brought up a level.

“Due to the location of competitions, some athletes will also be located in hotels.”

The Host City agreement is expected to be signed by the EOC and Minsk 2019 next months, while a meeting to establish the organising committee is expected to be held on May 30.

insidethegames understands George Katulin, the former secretary general of the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus (NOC RB), will be named director of Minsk 2019.

The NOC RB’s current secretary general Anatol Kotau is expected to be named as Katulin’s deputy, while their newly elected vice-president Andrei Astashevich will join the EOC Executive Committee as an co-opted ex officio member, representing Minsk 2019.

“Our intention is to create a multi-sport event which will only be second to the Olympic Games,” Kocijančič told insidethegmames.

“We would also like the event to be a product by itself, which will have commercial value.

“It will help make the European Olympic Committees independent from the International Olympic Committee and its Solidarity Fund.

“We think we can contribute more, if we are more independent.”