1st European games in Baku: Olympics with oriental color and invaluable experience for Belarus


1st European games in Baku: Olympics with oriental color and invaluable experience for Belarus

When will Belarus host the Olympic Games? The question is not ironic, by the way. Nobody thought that the IIHF WM would be held in Minsk. But it was held in the Belarus capital and is considered one of the best in terms of organization. Why not aim for hosting the Olympics?

And the first step has been taken.

In 2019, Belarus will host the European Youth Olympic Festival. This decision was announced last November in Baku, where on June 12 the first ever European games opened.

All these competitions are held within the International Olympic Committee. Belarus deems this experience very useful. Alexander Lukashenko also went to Baku to attend the opening ceremony and get familiar with everything that is now happening in Azerbaijan. 

Vanessa Kolodinskaya, world champion in freestyle wrestling:
There is still no nervousness. We leave it for the competition day. I think it will not be easy but we will try.

The idea of ​​the European Games in Baku was widely discussed in Minsk four years ago during a meeting of the Council of the European Olympic Committees.

It was then that President Alexander Lukashenko supported the project. 

Azerbaijan is a country that is not known widely outside the former Soviet Union so the government decided to use the European Games to demonstrate its strength and capabilities.

The budget of the European Games in Baku is 1 billion euros.

In two years, the Azerbaijanis built from scratch modern facilities: a gymnastics arena, a stadium for cycling, watersports center and the National Stadium.

Alexander Lukashenko, at a meeting with his friend and counterpart Ilham Aliyev, expressed his admiration.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
I frankly congratulate you and envy. This is history after all - the 1st European Olympic Games in Baku. These Olympic Games have given rise to the completion of all your activities from the embankment to sports facilities.  Well done! We had no doubt that you would be in time for the Games, but we did not imagine that it would be that beautiful!

Friendship of Belarus and Azerbaijan has lasted since the Soviet era. In the years of sovereignty it became even stronger and stood the test of time. Baku supported Minsk in the difficult moments.

The yearly turnover is quite decent - $330 million. Azerbaijan assembles Belarus' MAZ trucks and MTZ tractors. Dozens of more profitable projects are being worked on.

Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan Republic:
We very much value our relationship. We are proud that we have achieved in a relatively short time such level of political cooperation, economic cooperation... And we have joint projects. In all areas, we see only positive dynamics.

Alexander Lukashenko in Baku talked with other leaders of foreign countries. About three dozen key figures in politics came to the opening of the sports competition.

In the evening at the opening ceremony they were all in the VIP box. The President of Belarus loves sport. And when the Belarusian team passed by the VIP box, Alexander Lukashenko and his son stood up and welcomed the athletes.

Alexander Lukashenko shared his impressions already on June 13 in Baku at the meeting with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

Alexander Lukashenko:
Sport is our priority. The principles we profess in politics are very in tune with the principles pursued by the International Olympic Committee. We are absolutely international, multi-religious, multi-ethnic country, where people live in peace and harmony.

Alexander Lukashenko suggested that the International Olympic Committee support sports initiatives in countries that are developing in this direction.

President of Belarus thanked Thomas Bach for the activities in the international sports and presented him with the Order of the National Olympic Committee for outstanding achievements in the development of the Olympic movement.

Alexander Lukashenko:
It is the will of our athletes. I follow their will.

Then Mr Lukashenko met with European Olympic Committees Patrick Hickey. The officials discussed on June 13 the organization and holding of the 1st European Games in Baku. 

Alexander Lukashenko:
Azerbaijan organized this even in a way that made all haters shut up. This is a normal, developing, peaceful country with excellent management and a president who wants good to the country. Therefore whether you criticize him or not, he is doing do not criticize, but he does a good deed for his country, his people and, as we have seen, for the whole of Europe. We will of course be criticized, as always. Criticizing is easier than doing. Therefore, we need to just get used to this.

The Head of State awarded Patrick Hickey the Skaryna Medal for his personal contribution to the development of Belarusian Olympic movement, mass sport and elite sport. 

Assistant to the President on matters of physical education, sport and tourism as well as Sport Minister visited the Belarusian team's residence in the Olympic Village.

Alexander Shamko, Minister of Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Belarus:
There are all conditions for recreation of athletes, for their recovery. There are medical components.

The village is located in the northwest of Baku, near the main arenas. 

The Belarusian team already has won the first medal today. Silver was won in Greco-Roman wrestling.

Belarusian synchronized swimmers also made history by being the first who performed at the 1st European games.

Sportsmen call these contests a major rehearsal before the big Olympic start. By the way, it is here where some Olympic licenses will be contested.