The Baku 2015 European Games will be the largest multi-sport event ever to take place in the history of Azerbaijan with the country having identified the historic inaugural event as a key to its continued economic, social and political progression.
The remarkable role that Azerbaijan will play in writing this new chapter in its nation’s history and that of European sport was presented to leading representatives from international sport today when Mr. Azad Rahimov, Minister for Youth and Sport in Azerbaijan addressed the SportAccord Convention 2014 in Belek/Antalya, Turkey.
Minister Rahimov, who is also Chief Executive Officer of the Baku European Games Operation Committee, told delegates that the inaugural European Games would inspire the continent of Europe and unite the European nations in a joyous celebration of sport.
Minister Rahimov provided a detailed insight into the preparations to host the Games which, he said, will be athlete focused with investment directed at providing iconic locations and 20 world class facilities for the 6,000 competitors who will compete across a total of 19 sports.
“The European Olympic Committees have long had the vision of a continental Games for Europe and they entrusted the delivery of this ambitious project to Azerbaijan when the Games were awarded to Baku,” Minister Rahimov said in his address.
“The EOC’s vision and our ambition is to create a transferable and sustainable model for future Games which can be implemented in other European cities. At the same time, we wish to maximise the opportunity to showcase Azerbaijan as a modern European nation,” he added.
Minister Rahimov also outlined the strategic approach that the Government of Azerbaijan has taken to ensuring that the event will develop sporting, social and economic progress in Azerbaijan.
“It is important for us to use the opportunity as host of the First European Games to further establish Baku and Azerbaijan as a dynamic destination in Europe for sports, business, tourism and culture and also as an emerging base of knowledge and skills,” he remarked.
“Not only will Baku 2015 provide new world class sporting venues, it will also act as a catalyst for the development of new urban and community facilities for the people of Baku and Azerbaijan,” he added.
“We are convinced that our venue development, supported by Azerbaijani Government schemes to promote youth sport participation, will help develop healthier and more active lifestyles across the nation,” Minister Rahimov continued.
The new sporting venues and facilities constructed for the Games are set to leave a lasting legacy for the young people of Azerbaijan.
Construction is underway to deliver the purpose built Main Stadium which will seat 65,000 spectators and sports fans during the Opening and Closing ceremonies and athletics events.
The newly completed National Gymnastics Arena will host the European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships this May as a test event for next year’s Games. Swimming, synchronised swimming and diving competitions will take place in the Baku Aquatics Centre.
“Observers have already recognised Azerbaijan’s dedication to ensuring that the Baku 2015 European Games is a Games focused on athletes. This is clearly demonstrated by the world class Athlete’s Village which will host up to 9,000 athletes and officials and which has been designed to deliver the best accommodation and preparation facilities possible,” said Minister Rahimov.
Delegates also heard that the organisers aimed to develop new and efficient working processes and more skills, jobs, commercial knowledge and major event expertise in local communities. Another key objective is to ensure that the Games increase expertise levels across a wide range of sectors involved in providing goods and services for the event.
“The Government is also investing heavily in numerous significant transport projects that will be ready in time for the Games, including upgrades to the metro and bus networks,” Minister Rahimov announced.
Investment projects include two new high-tech railway lines – the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars line, connecting Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, and the Baku China line, a new international airport terminal in Baku and enhanced flight schedules by 2015 with flights to 60 airports across 50 cities and 22 countries around the world.
Azerbaijan is the largest, most populated region in the South Caucasus with a population of almost 9.5 million people. In the decade between 2000 and 2010, Azerbaijan demonstrated the second highest GDP growth in the world. Strong economic growth has been driven by oil and gas reserves, tourism and agriculture.