Baku, Azerbaijan, June 24
Four-time Olympic champion Michael Johnson was in Baku this week to meet aspiring young Azerbaijani athletes and take part in the Olympic Day celebrations on Baku Boulevard on Monday, June 23.
Mr. Johnson, an ambassador for BP in Azerbaijan - which is one of Baku 2015's Official Partners - visited the Baku 2015 European Games Operation Committee (BEGOC) headquarters where he met BEGOC staff.
He also went on a tour of the newly-built Baku 2015 Athletes Village, which will host over 9,000 athletes and officials during next summer's inaugural European Games, before observing the ongoing construction of the National Stadium.
Mr. Simon Clegg, Chief Operating Officer of Baku 2015, said: "It was a privilege and an honor to welcome one of the world's greatest Olympians to our Baku 2015 headquarters, and show him how our preparations for the first-ever European Games are progressing."
"Michael's knowledge of the Games world is unrivalled, so it was an excellent opportunity for him to share his expertise with our staff here at BEGOC, and pass on his advice to future aspiring Azerbaijani athletes at the Olympic Day celebrations."
Mr. Johnson for his part said: "It has been a pleasure to be in Baku this week and witness the growing enthusiasm for sport in Azerbaijan."
"I understand how much of an inspiration a home Games can be, and the first European Games is a fantastic opportunity for the athletes of this country to make history and achieve success."
Michael Johnson is considered one of the greatest and most consistent sprinters in the history of track and field athletics, and currently holds the Olympic and World 400m records. He also held the Olympic and World 200m records for 12 years from 1996 to 2008.
Olympic Day is celebrated around the world on June 23 and represents the date which the modern Olympic Games were born in 1894.
Hundreds of thousands of people - both young and old - traditionally participate in sports activities such as runs, exhibitions, music and educational seminars. The event has helped spread the Olympic ideals to every corner of the world.
Baku 2015 will be the first ever European Games, an exciting and innovative new multi-sport event for the continent that will take place from June 12 until June 28, 2015.
There will be a total of 19 sports at Baku 2015: 16 Olympic sports and three non-Olympic sports. More than 6,000 athletes are expected to represent their nations over the 17 days of competition.
Nine of the sports will offer qualification opportunities for the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics in 2016. Those sports include archery, athletics, beach volleyball, cycling, shooting, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo and triathlon.
Baku was awarded the Games by the European Olympic Committees (EOC) in December 2012. The Baku European Games Operation Committee (BEGOC) will organize and run the Games in co-operation with the EOC.
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