European Games executive director Simon Clegg, centre, has concluded a five-day visit to Minsk to inspect preparations for next year’s edition of the event ©Mitchell Communications

European Games executive director Simon Clegg has concluded a five-day visit to Minsk to inspect preparations for next year's edition of the event.

Clegg, who was re-appointed to his role earlier this month having played a key part in the organisation of the inaugural European Games in Baku in 2015, described his first official trip to Belarus’ capital as "enlightening, educational and encouraging".

As well as meeting with Belarus Deputy Prime Minister Vasily Zharko, Sports Minister Sergey Kovalchuk and Minsk 2019 chief executive George Katulin, Clegg also spoke individually with the director or lead of each of Minsk 2019’s functional areas.

Furthermore, he met Beach Soccer Worldwide’s deputy vice-president Gabi Renales and head of competitions Josep Ponset.

Both Renales and Ponset were in Minsk to review their sport’s progress.

"The first thing that struck me was the very important place sport plays in Belarusian society," said Clegg, the former Baku 2015 chief operating officer.

"After visiting every competition and training venue I am confident that Belarus has the necessary sporting infrastructure and personnel to deliver an excellent European Games next year.

"The venues look very impressive indeed with many having been built for the 2014 World Ice Hockey Championships, providing excellent spectator capacities and adjacent training facilities.

"Renovations on the few facilities requiring it are well advanced and I’m confident that the field of play will be excellent for the athletes and provide a great broadcasting backdrop."

Clegg’s new role will see him regularly visit Belarus prior to the Games, which are scheduled to take place from June 21 to 30, 2019.

He will continue to work closely with Minsk 2019 in an attempt to ensure the successful delivery of the second edition of the event.

Simon Clegg served as the chief operating officer for the Baku 2015 European Games ©EOC
Simon Clegg served as the chief operating officer for the Baku 2015 European Games ©EOC

Clegg became the chief operating officer of Baku 2015 a year before the Games, replacing American official Jim Scherr.

Prior to that, he held the position of executive director at the European Olympic Committees, which he took up in 2013.

Clegg was also a key figure in inspiring London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, having been the former chief executive of the British Olympic Association.

The official has served as the British Chef de Mission at six Olympic Games.

Most recently, Clegg has been the chief operating officer of Expo 2020 in Dubai, a position he held since March 2016.

Dubai was selected to host the event in 2013 and is due to stage it between October 2020 and April 2021.

Expo 2020 claimed Clegg left the position due to "personal reasons".

Speaking to insidethegames in October, Clegg stated the personal reasons were a "desire to return to the world of sport".

A total of 4,082 athletes from the 50 European National Olympic Committees will compete in 15 sports at Minsk 2019.

Ten of the sports will act as qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with the European Games also counting as the official European Championships for four sports.

There will be 91 men’s events, 89 women’s events and 21 mixed events overall, with 115 universality spots available.