Azerbaijan, Baku / corr Trend Vugar Vugarli / Azerbaijan has become a place to organize big international competitions. If ten years ago when Baku hosted the world championships in sambo caused a surprise, now it is accepted as a must. It is because Azerbaijan has organizers with excellent skills, which are no worse than local sports functionaries. One of them is the Vice President of the Azerbaijani Gymnastics Federation, Altay Hasanov. To my great surprise Mr Hasanov turned out not only very smart in the field of sports, but also a frank person with a sense of humour. Though the interview is not of a humorous nature...
Question: Was the Armenian issue in connection with the forthcoming European Callisthenics Championship to be held in Baku in June as acute as in football or wrestling?
Answer: If in 2005 they missed the World Championships in Baku due to a banal reason - lack of payment of the participation fee, they actually feared of participating in the European Championships. Armenian gymnasts do not figure in the list of top 50 sportsmen. Thus, they will only achieve disgrace in Baku.
Answer: Where will the guests be accommodated? I mean the sportsmen and trainers, as well as judges and sports employees.
Answer: Traditionally, the sportsmen and trainers will be accommodated at the Absheron hotel, while the judges and employees at the Grand Europe Hotel. Moreover, this hotel is located near the place where the tournament will take place - the Heydar Aliyev Sports and Concert Complex.
Question: Will fans from other countries visit Baku to go to the championships? I know that Russian fans accompany there favourites to huge international tournaments any where in the world.
Answer: Quite right. We expect the minimum of 100 Russians and 50 Ukrainian fans. Fans are also expected from other countries, because Baku will host gymnasts from 33 countries! There will be no problem with accommodating these people, as many hotels will be at their disposal.
Question: Let's speak about Azerbaijani fans as well. Unfortunately, we have fewer fans and vacant seats at the complex during prestigious competition such as the World title fight and World Cup tournament also testify to this. How will you prevent a repetition of history?
Answer: To be honest, we were very afraid of that. Therefore, we are now carrying out a wide ad campaign on all local television channels. I hope the nation will demonstrate civil consciousness and come to support the participants in this tournament. Moreover, Azerbaijani fans' favourites Alina Kabayeva, a Russian gymnast and Spanish sportsman Almuden Seed will participate
Question: By the way, how much is the ticket?
Answer: The prices of tickets range between 3 and 5 manats ($4-$6). I do not think them to be too expensive for a tournament of such a level.
Question: As far as I know, the European Championships do not have a prize fund. Could it be possible to allow the winners "empty hands"?
Answer: Of course, no! (laugh). They will receive valuable prizes from the sponsors of the European Championships - the companies Аzercell and LG.
Question: Do you think the Azerbaijani gymnasts have a chance of winning?
Answer: I would be very happy to see our trio Dinara Gimatova, Anna Gurbanova and Aliya Garayeva win a medal. As you understand, it will be very difficult to rise to the top of the podium at the championships with giant sportsmen like Kabayeva, Kapranova, Bessonova and Sessina present.
Question: If we go up then they will immediately spread gossip as though the medals were 'purchased'...
Answer: Quite right. Such gossip is spread immediately following brilliant performances by Azerbaijani sportsmen. What the most offending thing is that these rumours are mostly spread by local sportsmen. I cannot actually understand the jealousy among Azerbaijani sportsmen, because they all have the common objective of raising the national flag and to make everyone stand up to listen to the national anthem.
Question: And the last question: What is the progress with the construction of the gymnastic complex?
Answer: For the time being the estimation of the project is underway. We have changed the design of hall a little bit. However, it will not hinder the establishment of necessary conditions for training and performances by sportsmen in all fields of gymnastics from callisthenic to trampoline.