Azerbaijan set the standards for European Games. AZERBAIJAN NOC

Europe started hosting the continental games later than Asia, America and Africa. In 2012, the Association of European Olympic Committees decided that a separate competition should be held for European athletes and did its first edition in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The first European Games, similar to the origins of the Olympic Games in Greece, were inaugurated in the 'Land of Fire', Azerbaijan. Baku won the bid to host the European Games with 38 out of 48 votes at the 41st General Assembly of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) in December 2012. 

In 2013, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, appointed First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva as Head of the Organising Committee for the Games. The Baku 2015 European Games Operations Committee (BEGOC), formed under this directive, worked with the EOC to successfully organise the event. 

The then President of the EOC, Patrick Hickey, expressed his satisfaction with the high level of organisation of the I European Games: "Many cities hosting such events spend five to seven years preparing. However, Baku has honoured the European Olympic Movement by organising these magnificent Games on a continental scale at a high level in just thirty months". 

These Games have also created favourable conditions for strengthening cooperation between Azerbaijan and European countries in the economic, political, and sports fields, as well as for the development of tourism.

Opening ceremony of the 2015 Baku European Games. AZERBAIJAN NOC
Opening ceremony of the 2015 Baku European Games. AZERBAIJAN NOC

Under the leadership of Mehriban Aliyeva, the inaugural European Games in Azerbaijan's capital set the standard for future events. During the Baku 2015 European Games, a total of 6,000 athletes from 50 European countries participated in a highly competitive atmosphere in 20 sports, including both 16 Olympic disciplines and 4 non-Olympic sports. Competitions in 12 Olympic sports served as qualifying events for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The Azerbaijani team won a total of 56 medals - 21 gold, 15 silver and 20 bronze - and finished second behind the Russian team, which won 164 medals - 79 gold, 40 silver and 45 bronze. The British team finished third with 47 medals - 18 gold, 10 silver and 19 bronze.

The II European Games were held in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, in 2019. Badminton, boxing, judo, kayaking, and canoeing competitions were held at the European Championship level. 15 sports were included in the Games programme, eight of which have been licensed for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. This is fewer than at the Baku 2015 European Games.

In January 2019, Katowice applied to host the Games, but withdrew in May due to preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Krakow has been proposed as a replacement. Unlike Baku 2015 and Minsk 2019,  48 countries took part in these Games instead of 50. It was decided that the IV European Games would be held in Istanbul in 2027.

Turkey, building on the success of Konya 2021, is preparing for the IV European Games, aiming to match the standards set by Azerbaijan at the inaugural European Games. Baku 2015 has been hailed by athletes, experts and the media as a unique event in the world.