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  • European Games Plan Progresses; Athletics Federation Seeks Answers


    Patrick Hickey says a continental games would provide a significant income stream for European NOCs and federations. (ATR)
    (ATR) European Olympic Committees president Patrick Hickey tells Around the Rings "the omens are good" for a European Games after his latest discussions with European federations. 

    Hickey met with three more federations on the sidelines of the European Youth Olympic Festival in Trabzon, Turkey last week. He said talks about holding a continental games were "very positive".

    Following his discussions with some of the 26 European federations in Rome in June, the IOC member for Ireland has only volleyball, fencing, equestrian and weightlifting left to meet about the ambitious project.

    Deloitte is conducting a feasibility study on the European Games proposal and will canvass the views of each of the federations before producing its interim report in two weeks' time.

    "We want to answer all their questions and make sure they are happy with what we are attempting, and get their advice and suggestions," Hickey told ATR.

    Hickey is spearheading plans to create a continental games in Europe along the lines of the Asian or Pan American Games.

    He said Deloitte's interim report would provide an indication as to whether the multisport plan "could take off or whether it could be negative".

    "We are looking to see what the realities are," he added.

    Question marks surround where a continental games would fit into the already crowded European sports calendar, how it would be funded and the division of marketing and sponsorship revenues.
    The European Youth Olympic Festival is the only multi-sport event for Europe. (Getty Images)

    "We want to strike the right balance in how to spread the revenues. We consider the federations as our partners and want to get it right from day one," he said.

    "The omens are good."

    At least 15 continental sports federations are said to be behind plans to organize the Games.

    The mega-event would not be lacking in sponsorship partners, according to Hickey.

    Five large companies have already expressed interest in partnering with the pan-European initiative.

    Hickey said the IOC was "completely supportive" of the EOC's drive to put a European Games on the map.

    The EOC chief plans to sit down with IOC president Jacques Rogge to discuss the pros and cons of the project before he begins a second round of talks with the European federations in September.

    The track-and-field federation is key to the European Games gaining lift-off.

    European Athletics president Hansjörg Wirz met with Hickey last week but is yet to be convinced of the added value provided by the games.
    European Athletics president Hansjörg Wirz. (Getty Images)

    "We have to know what it really means [for us] and what is touched by it [federation's events] and then we can take a position," he told ATR.

    Wirz said uncertainties surrounding the Games included introducing the event into a busy calendar, the economic implications for the federation of integrating into a European Games as well as the impact on its other revenue streams.

    "That has to be clarified," he said.

    A major hurdle for the European Games could be the staging of the European Athletics Championships on a new two-year cycle beginning next year. Helsinki hosts the Euros in 2012, followed by Zurich two years later. Such a schedule would make it difficult to squeeze in another big track-and-field meet.

    Explaining the reasoning for the new two-year timetable, Wirz said: "We needed to have a platform for the new generation [of athletes]. The four-year cycle was too long and we lose them."

    He added: "We have never had discussions of when the European Games would be or if it's for the top athletes or for under-23."

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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