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Baku, Azerbaijan, June 28
The spark which ignited the European Games has come from the Land of Fire, President of European Olympic Committees Patrick Hickey said during the closing ceremony of the First European Games in Baku June 28.
"Your Excellency, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Chair of Baku 2015 First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, athletes of Europe and everyone who has shared this superb 17-day celebration of sport - Thank you," said Hickey.
"Azerbaijan: you have been warm and a gracious host," he added.
Hickey said that under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, the Baku 2015 European Games Operations Committee delivered arenas fit for the best athletes in Europe.
"A gold-medal standard of operational excellence and a team of new young heroes: your fantastic volunteers. All that in the space of 30 months," said the president of European Olympic Committees.
"The sports facilities you have created here will serve your athletes, your communities and your young people for years to come," he said. "Thank you all for the commitment you have shown to this great project."
Hickey also thanked the National Olympic Committees.
"You saw what these Games could mean for European sport. And you prepared your teams to hit peak performance on the field of play."
"Thank you, the International and European Federations. You came to these Games with your minds open to innovation," he said. "And together we showed that these modern-day multi-sports events can fit the needs and necessities of any city."
Expressing gratitude to the athletes of Europe, Hickey said that they represented their countries and their continent with honour and distinction.
"Great Games is defined by great sport. Great sport is what you gave us."
"I hope these Games stay with you. Your satisfaction in victory; your lessons in defeat. Now that you have lived, trained and competed with Europe's best you are ready to face the world at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games," he said.
Furthermore, he added that Europe is a continent of contrasts and great rivalries, of diversity, and history and competition.
"But here, at the European Games, we came together under a common flag, united by a common belief: that sport - and the pursuit of the Olympic ideal - elevates us to a place where what we share means more than what sets us apart. A belief that every four years, for two glorious weeks, we 50 nations of Europe can become one," said Hickey.
These were the Games on which to build all future European Games, the foundations of an event that will endure and inspire, according to the president of European Olympic Committees.
"To the European Olympic family and to our friends around the world, I say this, with complete certainty: the future is bright for Azerbaijan. The future is bright for the European Games. And the future is bright for the magnificent athletes of Europe," he said.
After completing his speech, Patrick Hickey declared the Baku 2015 inaugural European Games closed.