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  • European Games Expected to Win Approval


    (ATR) Baku, Azerbaijan will be the host of the first-ever European Games if delegates approve at the European Olympic Committees General Assembly in Rome.
    Azeri Minister of Youth and Sport Azad Rahimov in Rome. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)

    Azeri Minister of Youth and Sport Azad Rahimov is in Rome with a team from Baku, ready to present their plan for the Games Saturday morning. May 2015 is the target date.

    Planned as a European version of other continental games, the exact program of sports is not set, currently standing at 15, with no decisions yet from the European Swimming League or European Athletic Association as to whether those two marquee sports will join.

    Russia NOC President Alexander Zhukov took to the floor at the opening of the assembly Friday night, saying he only came to voice his support for the European Games. He will return to Russia Friday night to be on hand for the figure skating test event in Sochi.
    Russia NOC Preisdent Alexander Zhukov speaks in support of the European Games. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)

    “Russia fully supports Azerbaijan for the European Games,” Zhukov said.

    While the European Games proposal has drawn some doubt from the sports federations, there appears to be widespread support from the 49 members of the EOC, plenty to assure approval.

    Snow Forces Rogge to Cancel

    IOC President Jacques Rogge will miss the general assembly due to the shutting of Geneva Airport for snow. Rogge was supposed to speak at the open of the assembly, as is customary. The assembly was his last chance to address the group as IOC president before he steps down in September. Rogge was EOC president from 1991 to 2001.

    Coe Debut at EOC

    Sebastian Coe at the EOC Assembly. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
    A year ago, Sebastian Coe delivered a final progress report to the EOC about the London Games. This year, he is here for the first time as chair of the British Olympic Association. Coe was elected to the post last month.

    He was applauded twice during Friday’s open of the general assembly, praised for delivering “landmark Games”.

    “His thirst for challenges is never satisfied,” said EOC secretary general Raffaele Pagnozzi, as he noted Coe’s move to the BOA.

    CONI Wins Praise

    EOC president Patrick Hickey and secretary general Raffaele Pagnozzi. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
    Italian National Olympic Committee staff are getting high praise for the organization of the EOC meeting at the last minute. The job fell to CONI after the EOC leadership decided that the assembly could not be held in Israel as planned, due to the outbreak of rocket fire between Israel and Hamas.

    The meeting is taking place in a gymnasium on the CONI campus that’s been decorated for the occasion.

    Hotels have been the real challenge with CONI unable to secure one property for the 300+ delegates and observers. Now guests are spread among four hotels.

    Rome Mayor Pushes New Olympic Bid

    Rome Mayor Gianni Alemano says his city is ready to bid again for the Olympics – 2024 he says.
    Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno alongside IOC member Mario Pescante on the 2020 bid trail. (ATR)

    Rome was in the early race for 2020 and considered a favorite. But the bid was scuttled in February when the Italian government refused to support the campaign, citing the economic crisis faced by Italy.

    Alemano acknowledged the disappointment of dropping out and saluted the representatives of the three remaining cities – Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo – all here in Rome as observers.

    “We’ll be back for 2024. We’re doing this not just because we are a proud city, but because we believe in the Olympics,” said the mayor.

    Written and reported in Rome by Ed Hula

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