European Games in Baku could be start of new era for blind judo
Baku, Azerbaijan, June 27
The inaugural European Games in Azerbaijan are breaking new ground for disabled athletes, the article posted on FOX Sports said.
"In what some see as a trial run for the eventual inclusion of disabled sport into the Olympics, blind judo is a fully integrated part of the European Games program and counts toward the overall medal table," the article said.
Islam Ibragimov, the veteran coach of Russia's blind judo team, believes the European Games in Azerbaijan could be the start of a new era.
"It's a precedent. Everyone's seen that it's possible," he said. "It may work in the future, it may not, but the fact is that the Azerbaijanis started this story."
Blind judo holds a special significance in the host city of Baku, where a blind judoka Ilham Zakiyev is one of the country's best-known sporting heroes.
Azerbaijani judoka, two-time Paralympic champion Ilham Zakiyev, competing in the men's +90 kg blind judo at the Baku 2015 European Games, defeated Ukrainian judoka Oleksadr Pominov in the event's finals.
With regard to the future of disabled sport on the program of the next European Games, Simon Clegg, the Baku 2015 chief operating officer earlier said that European Olympic Committees will decide whether they wish to continue in the future, or indeed whether they wish to go a step further and have more athletes with disabilities participating in this event.
The European Games that kicked off June 12, will last till June 28. There is a total of 20 sports at Baku 2015: 16 Olympic sports and four non-Olympic sports.
More than 6,000 athletes from across Europe came to Baku to represent their nations over 17 days of competition. Baku was awarded the games by the European Olympic Committees (EOC) in December 2012.