Baku, Azerbaijan, June 29
By Aygun Badalova - Trend:
The first European Games in history have ended by a grand closing ceremony at the National Olympic Stadium in Baku June 28. Azerbaijan successfully closed the games, and wrote its name into the history of European Sports.
This major sports event was organized according to the standards of the Olympic Games, and It is of great importance not only for Azerbaijan, but for Europe as well.
The importance of the European Games for Azerbaijan is that the country has received valuable experience of holding such large-scale sports events, which will become handy while organizing other major sports events.
The organization of the games has surpassed all expectations. A large number of local volunteers got involved, and their role cannot be overestimated. They carried out the work with such enthusiasm, diligence and responsibility, that it became one of the important elements of success of the European Games. The volunteers will keep the experience gained during the preparation and holding of the Games. And this experience will contribute to the further initiatives of the country in the future.
Holding of the European Games promotes the country well and enhances its image in the international arena. The country has proven its ability to cope with the assumed tasks. Despite all attempts to discredit Azerbaijan as part of a smear and biased campaign conducted against it, the country coped with the challenges and held the games at the highest level.
The positive comments of the athletes regarding the created excellent conditions of accommodation and training, as well as the representatives of various sports organizations concerning the level of holding the competitions as part of the European Games testify to this.
The people who came in Azerbaijan for the first time, as athletes, coaches and tourists will have an idea of the country on the basis of what they saw themselves, rather than on what they have heard or read in the biased articles.
They will remember Azerbaijan not only as a beautiful, modern, hospitable country, but as a country that has presented a memorable sporting festivity to the world.
Not only the fans, who came to the country, but millions of viewers around the world, could enjoy the holiday thanks to the wide coverage of the European Games. Thus, the first European Games were broadcast in 145 countries via 61 channels. The opening ceremony was broadcast live in 120 countries, in particular, 30 non-European countries. This is also great success for Azerbaijan.
The infrastructure specially created for the European Games will be an important legacy for Azerbaijan. The infrastructure will be used in holding sporting events in the future. Azerbaijan's experience showed that major sports facilities are still used long after the events they have been originally created for.
So, the Crystal Hall built for the Eurovision song contest, which is one of the decorations of the city today, hosted the competitions as part of the European Games. Facilities created for the European Games will serve the athletes now as a platform for training and holding competitions of various kinds.
In general, the first European Games for Azerbaijan are undoubtedly the beginning of a new era of sports, a step forward on the way to even more large-scale sporting events.
Holding the first European Games is a step towards showing that Azerbaijan is ready to host large sporting events, according to Minister of Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan Azad Rahimov.
"Carrying out various kinds of major sporting events has always been a way for Azerbaijan to the Olympic Games," said Rahimov.
As for Europe, the Games held in Baku will give a good impetus to development of the European sports. The fact that namely Azerbaijan became the first host country of the European Games is very significant. For Europe, Azerbaijan is now not only a reliable energy partner, but also a country that has opened a new page in the history of sport of this continent.
Europe in terms of sports was lagging behind the rest of the world, behind the the Asian, African, Pan American Games. Now Europe, thanks to Azerbaijan, can boast of having its own Games. Of course, Europe should be proud of the fact that the first Games of this continent have been held on such a high level.
The experience gained by Azerbaijan in the process of holding the European Games, will definitely help in the conduct of the following Games.
Azerbaijan is ready to share its knowledge and experience in the preparation and conduct of the European Games with any other country, according to minister Azad Rahimov. He also said that the country has very interesting innovations in terms of technologies.
There are innovations in the format of holding the European Games as well. In particular, the program of the Games included four non-Olympic sports (basketball 3x3, beach soccer, karate and sambo (Russian martial arts style), which proved to be a successful decision.
The interest shown to these kinds of sports during the competitions will contribute to their development and eventually to inclusion into the Olympics program.
Moreover, the European Games have become a good experience, training and the ticket to the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games in Rio for many European athletes. For some athletes, European Games in Baku became the first major sporting event, and the success of these athletes can become a beginning of their sporting careers.
European countries considerably increased their medal reserves. Medals of the European Games were awarded to 43 countries of 50 participating ones. Gold medals were awarded to 31 countries.
As one can see, the first European Games have become a very important event for both the host country and the whole Europe. Azerbaijan, realizing the importance of this event, took it seriously and adequately organized it. Now the matter depends on the following host countries of this tournament, for which Azerbaijan should become a good example.
Aygun Badalova is Trend Agency's staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AygunBadalova