Azad Rahimov, Azerbaijan's Minister of Youth and Sport. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
(ATR) The minister of sport for Azerbaijan says Baku will not bid to host the Olympics in 2024 if Istanbul wins the right to host the 2020 Games.
Azad Rahimov was speaking in the Ministry of Youth and Sport in Baku to a group of young reporters from the International Sports Press Association (AIPS).
Baku submitted bids to host the Games in 2016 and 2020 but was cut from both shortlists. In May, the IOC raised doubts about the Azeri capital’s transport infrastructure, security and inexperience in hosting international multi-sport events.
"Unfortunately, we have not been successful, but we are not losing our dream to host the Olympic Games in our country and continue this great and important work,” Rahimov told reporters.
Baku also bid for the 2016 Olympics. (ATR)
He said he understood the IOC’s concerns but reiterated that Baku would bid again in the future – but when will be dependent on the outcome of the 2020 decision. The remaining candidates are Istanbul, Madrid as well Tokyo, and the minister gave his thoughts on each.
“Madrid faces now a great problem with the banks, the economy but at the same time Madrid is a city with a totally ready infrastructure,” he said. “They don’t need to construct something and spend the money. But people are not so happy at such a crisis time to host an Olympic Games because it will be expensive.
“Tokyo, Japan has hosted the Olympics three times and also needs to sort out this problem with the typhoons going on, with the earthquakes but nobody knows how it will be.
Leaders of the Baku 2020 bid, including Rahimov, remain stonefaced in the moments after the IOC shortlist announcement at SportAccord. (ATR)
“Istanbul is a city with a problem with traffic. It is a city bidding for Olympic Games and for hosting the European championship – if they will stay in two, both in the football and the Olympics, they will lose both of them.
“But if Istanbul wins the 2020 Olympic Games, it’s not logical to give to Baku because never from the geographical point of view two cities close to each other, both Muslim cities and with Europe on the border, will be nominated as hosting city.”
Rahimov explained that in that scenario, it wouldn’t make sense for Baku to bid for 2024, especially as it would cost money that could be directed to other sporting ventures within the ministry.
So it seems Istanbul is the only obstacle at the moment standing in the way of a Baku bid for 2024.
“I can answer this question in September 2013,” he added.
Reported by Christian Radnedge
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