By hosting European Games, Azerbaijan stands to benefit in many different ways
Baku, Azerbaijan, April 27
By Elchin Mehdiyev - Trend:
By hosting the European Games, Azerbaijan stands to benefit in many different ways, Irish politician Colin Keenan told Trend.
"Internationally, this event will bring much of the world's attention, giving Azerbaijan the opportunity to showcase the best of itself," he said, commenting on the upcoming event.
"Baku 2015" is the first ever European Games, an exciting and innovative multi-sport event for the continent which will take place on June 12-28, 2015.
A total of 20 sports will be represented at Baku 2015: 16 Olympic sports and four non-Olympic sports. More than 6,000 athletes from across Europe will be representing their nations over 17 days of competition. Baku was awarded the games by the European Olympic Committees (EOC) in December 2012.
Keenan believes that such attention to the Games will generate tourist interest that will economically prosper the country long after the games have left.
"For the local economy too, with 6000 plus athletes attending, not to mention spectators and tourists, local businesses stand to be much better off," he said.
"In Europe, sport can be used as means to create the space necessary for understanding between the nation states. For the prospective participants too, these games offer them yet another outlet for others to recognize the hard work, perseverance and commitment it takes to be a world class athlete," he said.
"I'm confident that these games will be a huge success for everyone involved," Keenan said.
Commenting on the campaigns to discredit Azerbaijan by the international circles, foreign NGOs on the eve of the European Games, he said that sport is a tool to bring people together.
Sport should not be a tool used to create division among people or to make political statements, he said.
"Athletes who compete, wish to see their hard work, perseverance and commitment recognized and celebrated, " he said. "They do not wish to be the pawns in other peoples' political warfare."
"As such, we all owe them a duty, to make these games purely about sport," he said. "It is never right to politicize sport and as such, I urge those who would think of doing so to think again."