The Azerbaijan capital Baku will host the inaugural European Games in 2015 it was announced in Rome on Saturday after a motion to hold the continental Games was passed by a general assembly of the 49-member European Olympic Committees (EOC).
The brainchild of EOC president Pat Hickey, who came up with the idea three years ago, the EOC said on their official website that the new event was not intended to be a rival to the Olympic Games.
The Games – whose exact dates are yet to be fixed – will have around 15 sports on its programme according to the EOC and will, according to the EOC, not cost their member nations any money to compete in.
“The NOCs have received assurance that the event will not cost them a penny, but bring them financial gains,” the EOC website statement said.
Spanish NOC president Alejandro Blanco welcomed the announcement.
“As a member of the Executive Committee of the European Olympic Committees I have been very closely involved in this project. Europe is the only continent without their own Games.
“More and more sports want to take part. We continually receive requests from federations who want to be included. The first Games will feature 15 disciplines.
“This decision opens the way for smaller cities to put themselves forward as hosts of the event in the future, and even, the Olympic Games themselves. Why not?
“We are sure that Baku will organise excellent Games.”
The contract was signed by Hickey, EOC Secretary General Raffaele Pagnozzi, Azerbaijan’s Minister of Youth and Sport Azad Rahimov, and the vice president of the NOC of Azerbaijan, Chingiz Huseynzada.
It is some consolation for Baku as they were candidates to host the 2020 Olympic Games but failed to make the short list when it was voted on earlier this year by the International Olympic Committee Executive Board.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]