The European Olympic Committees (EOC) inspection team praised progress made by the local operating committee of the Baku 2015 European Games following its three day visit to the city hosting the 2015 European Games.
The preparation to the Baku 2015 Games was discussed at the meeting of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev with the President of the European Olympic Committee Patrick Hickey and a member of the executive committee of the European Olympic Committee, Spyros Capralos where the importance of the work carried out in Azerbaijan for the development of different areas of sports, and progress on preparation for the inaugural European Games in Baku in 2015 were stressed.
Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva, member of the Executive Committee of the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and the Chair of the Baku 2015 European Games Organizing Committee welcomed the EOC members to the two days of presentations held in Baku on 28-29 October 2013.
Speaking at a press conference in Baku today, the EOC Coordination Commission chairman Spyros Capralos said he was “impressed” with overall planning and preparations by the Baku 2015 Organizing Committee for the historic first European Games.
Spyros Capralos said: “The Baku 2015 Games will leave a great legacy of new venues, infrastructure and inspiration for the communities and youth of Azerbaijan and Europe as a whole.”
“In the six months since our first Coordination Commission visit, Jim Scherr has come on board as Chief Operating Officer and has quickly put in place a first rate internationally experienced senior team who have hit the ground running.”
Capralos and the EOC President and IOC Executive Board member Patrick Hickey were welcomed to Baku by Mr. Azad Rahimov, Azerbaijan Minister for Sport and Youth and the Chief Executive Officer of the Baku European Games Operations Committee (BEGOC), who personally led a tour of the venues accompanied by Jim Scherr, BEGOC Chief Operating Officer.
“We are delighted to welcome the Coordination Commission to Baku for the second time and have enjoyed taking them through our plans and progress,” said Minister Rahimov.
“I am grateful for the involvement of President Aliyev and the First Lady in our visit. Their commitment to hosting the first European Games has been unwavering and their involvement in the plans and progress is welcomed,” Patrick Hickey said.
“BECOG has reached a new level of detail in its planning for these historic first European Games relating to the sports competition schedule and venues. This will pave the way for planning to proceed to more advanced stages of venue and sports operations as well as accommodation, transport and other core Games sectors and services for athletes, spectators, visitors and other groups in readiness for the Games,” Hickey said.
The EOC also praised the increased capacity of the Organizing Committee in recent months, which has been boosted by the recruitment of several highly regarded Games operations experts and planners, many of whom worked on last year’s universally acclaimed London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and other major international events and projects.
The BEGOC Chief Operating Officer Jim Scherr, said: “With a little under 600 days until the Opening Ceremony of the Baku Games, everyone at BECOG is passionate and totally focused on putting on Games that Baku, the whole country of Azerbaijan and the continent of Europe can be proud of.”
“We have an experienced senior team in place and our planning is advanced. A huge amount of work has been undertaken over the last six months and an immediate priority is to begin sharing the details of our Games with the National Olympic Committees, Sport Federations and other key stakeholders,” added Scherr.
Hickey said the EOC was pleased that Baku Organizers were using the Games as a catalyst to develop local communities and to help educate society through sport and the values of sport, describing the Baku Games as visionary and innovative.
President Hickey also praised the leadership of the Baku Games project by Azerbaijan Sport and Youth Minister Azad Rahimov, and thanked the support for the Games shown by the people and Government of Azerbaijan.
The EOC Commission members received presentations and reports from Games Organizers on progress in several key functional areas, such as sport, venue locations and construction, transport, finance, communications, accommodation, and technology.
They also toured some of the key Games sites, including Crystal Hall, which will host five sports – Boxing, indoor volleyball, taekwondo, fencing and karate.
Minister Rahimov said the people of Azerbaijan are planning a national welcome and Games experience that will live long in the memories of the athletes and countries of Europe, and which would inspire future generations of young people in Azerbaijan and the continent, and thanked EOC Coordination Commission members for their advice and support during the visit.
“Our plans for the Baku 2015 Games have been significantly enhanced and strengthened from the highly productive meetings with the EOC Games experts, and we look forward to further visits from the Coordination Commission as we move forward towards the inaugural Baku 2015 Games.”