A series of technical meetings have been held between officials in Belarus and international experts to discuss preparations for the 2019 European Games in Minsk.
They were the prelude to the first official visit of the European Olympic Committees Coordination Commission, chaired by Spyros Capralos, to the Belarus capital to inspect preparations for the second edition of the Games.
The meeting with the key Minsk 2019 stakeholders was held at the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus headquarters, where EOC acting President Janez Kocijančič signed the Host City Contract earlier this month.
The EOC’s technical experts discussed a wide range of areas critical to the success of the European Games, including the sports programme, IT requirements, marketing, broadcasting and accommodation.
Kocijančič and EOC secretary general Raffaele Pagnozzi have travelled to Minsk for the meetings and will be present when the Coordination Commission meets with Belarus National Olympic Committee first vice-president Andrei Astashevich, Belarus Minister of Sports and Tourism Aleksandr Shamko, Minsk 2019 chief executive George Katulin and several other key stakeholders.
"It is great to be here in Minsk for the first Coordination Commission meetings," said Kocijančič.
"This is a very important milestone on the exciting journey we are on with the Minsk 2019 Organising Committee.
"As I have said in the past, it is very important to the EOC that the Games reflect the recommendations set out in Olympic Agenda 2020, and this focus will form an important part of the discussions over the next few days.”
As well as the EOC’s technical experts, the Coordination Commission also includes representatives from the National Olympic Committees of Europe and the European Federations involved.
Among the members of the EOC Coordination Commission are Sergey Bubka, President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine and an International Olympic Committee member, and Azad Rahimov, the Azerbaijani Minister of Youth and Sport, the chief executive of the inaugural European Games in Baku in 2015.
One notable name missing was David Lappartient, appointed as President of the European Cycling Union but who today successfully defeated Brian Cookson to become the new head of the International Cycling Union at the election in Bergen.
Capralos, who successfully led the EOC Coordination Commission for Baku 2015, was positive about the progress of preparations for the Games, where more then 4,000 athletes are due to take part in 180 medal events.
"I am delighted about how things have started – we have certainly kicked off on the right foot," he said.
"I have every confidence in the individuals who are part of the Minsk 2019 Coordination Commission.
"They have shown that they are aware of and on top of the issues at hand, and they have started addressing them with professionalism, passion and competence.
"I am excited for the important discussions over the next few days and the development of this project over the next 18 months. Everything I have seen so far has given me confidence that, together with the Minsk 2019 Organising Committee, the EOC will deliver another outstanding European Games."