Baku, Azerbaijan, June 8
By Aygun Badalova:
The first-ever European Games which will held in Baku from 12 to 28 June, are in the focus of the world media. Various TV channels prepare materials, different articles devoted to the upcoming games are also published in leading print media outlets, news agencies and social networks.
And, along with objective information there are also groundless accusations. In particular, an assumption is put forward, that the government of Azerbaijan spent billions developing the sports infrastructure for the First European Games.
This is while according to the country's government, some $950 million was allocated from the state budget for the organization of the Games. Aside from it, Azerbaijani officials have previously stated that even before the decision on holding the Games in Baku, Azerbaijan adopted a state program on development of the country's sports potential.
The main objective of the program is to get Azerbaijan's sports infrastructure ready to hold major events of continental and world levels. The realization of the program started to go faster once the decision to hold the European Games was announced.
It should be noted that the First European games are not the only huge event that will take place this summer. From 10 to 26 July the Pan-American Games will be held in Toronto, Canada.
Even though the scale of this event is quite big, the world media outlets, for some reasons, didn't pay enough attention to it. Nonetheless, a recently published report regarding Canada's expenses on organizing the Pan-American Games makes critical statements on the European Games' budget look ridiculous.
Further on: the budget of the Pan American Games is 2.5 times higher than the budget of the First European Games.
Azerbaijan foresees spending some $950 million on preparations for the European Games. The spendings on the Pan American Games, in accordance with the primary data, have already reached $2.5 billion - although the organizers previously stated that they will not go beyond the proposed budget of $1.4 billion.
The Pan-American games will feature some 7,000 athletes from 41 countries of North and South America and Caribbean basin, who will compete in 36 sport disciplines for 364 medals. For comparison: there will be a total of 20 sports at Baku 2015. More than 6,000 athletes from 50 countries will compete for 253 medals.
As we can see, the difference between the figures is not huge, and yet the difference between the spent budgets is quite big. Another valid point that must be considered is that it will be the XVII Pan American Games while the European games will be held for the first time in sports history.
The money that Canada spent for "Toronto 2015" represent the record level in the whole history of the Pan-American Games. In 2011, Mexico spent just $750 million for Pan-American Games in Guadalajara.
At the same time, the income that the organizing committee of the current Pan American games expects, amounts only 172 million CAD, which makes less than 10 percent of the money that have been already spent.
As for Canada's sports infrastructure, from the 30 arenas where competitions will be held, 10 are new, while 14 are either newly built or fully modernized.
The country spent more than $567 million dollars on construction of the athletes village. Another $190 million have been spent on security, and $70 million - on transportation. A more interesting fact is that some $60 million was spent on the movement of the torch of the Pan-American Games.
At the same time, Canada also experiences problems related to the timely delivery of the sports facilities. As a result, their construction and modernization requires more money than it was expected in the first place.
For example, the budget of Centennial Park Pan Am BMX Centre increased from $1.54 million to $4 million, while the budget of Cookstown Pan Am equestrian center jumped from $2.5 million to $6.2 million.
So here's the burning question: why do some overseas media outlets, who so vehemently discuss and criticize the upcoming European Games, including the money spent and the participation of the world leaders at the grand opening, remain quiet to what is happening in Canada? Isn't it an indication of bias towards Azerbaijan? The answer seems obvious.