The plan from The Netherlands would stage the games across the country. (ATR)
(ATR) Amid uncertainties about funding, the Dutch sports movement votes to push ahead with its bid for the 2019 European Games.
The Dutch NOC and national federations gathered at the crunch general assembly near Arnhem to decide whether to proceed with its quest to land the second edition of the continental games.
There was near unanimous support - 155 voted to pursue the bid, with only 14 against.
Questions remain about how to pay the 125 million euros projected cost of the Games. Rather than centered on a single city, the Dutch plan disperses the games throughout the well connected kingdom of 16 million people.
With just 18 days before the European Olympic Committees, it seems certain that the Netherlands are the preferred bidder in the EOC’s collaborative process to find a host city.
The Netherlands bidding concept, a very different beast from the inaugural Games in Baku this summer, will be presented to the full EOC membership for approval at an Extraordinary General Assembly in Belek, Turkey, on May 16.
Andre Bolhuis, president of the Dutch NOC, told the delegates at the meeting that that the multisports event would be a “unique concept where the nation and not one city will be hosting the European Games in 2019”.
It would be hosted in five provinces and up to nine cities, including Amsterdam and The Hague. Bolhuis has previously told ATR the Netherlands is looking at a maximum of 17 sports – three fewer than on the roster of Baku 2015.
“We have worked out a bid that is largely in line with the new IOC Agenda 2020,” he said, speaking about the capped budget of and commitment not to invest heavily in infrastructural projects.
No new sports venues would be built.There won't be a dedicated Athletes’ Village. All competitors will be staying in existing accommodation in the area where their sport will be held, he confirmed.
After the Dutch sports movement abandoned its long-term aims of securing the 2028 Summer Olympics more than 18 months ago, Bolhuis said the 2019 competition “is a unique chance
Andre Bolhuis, president of the Dutch NOC.
to show the world that a small nation is capable of organizing major sports events like this”.
Bolhuis spoke of the world championships that have been staged across the Netherlands in recent years underlining the country’s hosting credentials. This year, it will stage the world championship beach volleyball in four locations around the country and Utrecht will host the start of the Tour de France.
“We feel that an event like the European Games in 2019 on the calendar will have major impact on the popularity of sport in the Netherlands,” he added.
The bid still needs the financial support of the Dutch government, sponsors and private donors.
“We promised our members to make a bid under conditions with the European Olympic Committee (EOC). We guaranteed our assembly that there won't be any financial risk for NOC and their members,” Bolhuis added.
“We need to have financial commitments from national, regional and local governments. And we also want guarantees from participating international federations that it will be an absolute elite sports event.”
Although the EOC has said that six cities are part of the bidding process, promising to unveil the winning bid on May 16, the Dutch NOC has been very transparent in its discussing the content of its bid.
“We think we are that country. It’s a very close timetable, so it’s important we have the feeling that that is the case because we are doing a lot of work for it,” an NOC spokesman tells ATR.
The financial guarantees will not be fully in place by the time of the EOC meeting in Belek.
“We are talking. If we don’t have partners that will finance the European Games 2019 then there will not be a bid. We are confident because otherwise we should stop now,” he said, noting that the Dutch sports movement was asking 25 million from the government.
Reported from The Netherlands by Mark Bisson
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