Azerbaijan set for first European Games

Friday 12 June sees the Opening Ceremony for the first European Games in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku. The European Games were devised by the European Olympic Committee and launched at their General Assembly in Rome in December 2012, when 84% of the National Olympic Committees of Europe voted for the creation of the European Games.

Baku was named as the first host city. The concept is a continental multi-sport event along the lines of an Olympic or Commonwealth Games. Under the leadership of EOC President Patrick Hickey, an EOC Coordination Commission has been established to oversee the organisation of the first European Games.

Asia has already been holding its equivalent games every four years since 1951. That was the same year in which the Pan-American Games came into being as well.

In total, 50 European countries are bringing around 6,000 athletes to compete in Azerbaijan between 12 and 28 June.

In Baku, there are 20 sports on show, which will encompass 30 disciplines. Of those sports, 16 are Olympic events, while the other four — karate, basketball 3×3, beach soccer and sambo — are new sports to this format.

In judo, the European Games will double as the European Championships – which was due to take place in Glasgow in April until a sponsorship row forced postponment of the event.

The other 15 sports are: aquatics, archery, athletics, badminton, volleyball, boxing, canoe, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, table tennis, taekwondo, triathlon and wrestling. There will be 253 medal events — and there will also be opportunities in 12 sports to qualify for next year’s Olympics in Rio. Some of those sports offer direct qualification — such as triathlon, shooting and table tennis — and others provide ranking points, such as wrestling, archery and taekwondo.

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