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  • "No Room for Complacency" as Baku 2015 Finalizes Preps


    Baku 2015 chief operating officer Simon Clegg (ATR)
    (ATR) “Baku is ready”. That was the message from Spyros Capralos, the EOC’s inspection chief for the first European Games opening in 26 days’ time

    Giving his final report to the European Olympic Committees’ Extraordinary General Assembly in Belek on Saturday, the Greek had nothing but praise for games organizers.

    Underlining how much had been achieved in the 30 months since the Azeri capital was awarded the games, from the building of new venues and infrastructure to the mobilizing of a huge volunteer workforce, he said: “Baku is ready. BEGOC is ready. The EOC is ready.

    “Let’s look forward to a marvelous inaugural European Games in Baku.”

    But there is still work to do before the June 12 opening ceremony, admitted Baku 2015 chief operating officer Simon Clegg.

    “We are facing challenges every day of the week but it was always going to be like this,” he told Around the Rings.

    “We are in a good position and where I would expect us to be. But there is no room for complacency,” he said.

    “There’s still a lot of stuff to come in by land, sea and air,” he said. A 25,000 square meter warehouse is storing 322,000 items of sports equipment as well as other supplies for the games.

    A major project, currently well under way, involves dressing the city in games branding.

    Volunteers are going through final training sessions and being allocated roles across the Baku project.

    The European Games lanes to fast-track athletes and officials between venues are marked and will be operational at the end of May, he confirmed.

    When asked what could go wrong, he joked “everything”.

    He emphasized that any first event of the magnitude of the European Games would inevitably experience problems at games-time.

    “The challenge is finding the right solutions and implementing things as quickly as possible,” he told ATR.

    “We have the experience on the organizing committee to find these solutions and adapt our plans accordingly and hopefully meeting whatever challenges and situations we face during the games.”

    European Olympic Committee delegates in Belek (ATR)
    announced a new broadcast deal on Saturday, ensuring Baku 2015 will be screened widely in Latin America.

    But there’s still no deal with a Russian TV broadcaster, even though the country will send the biggest team of the 50 participating NOCs to the games with 359 athletes.

    Clegg and EOC chief Pat Hickey are confident a deal will be struck in the coming weeks.

    The Baku 2015 official is delighted with the global interest from broadcasters – the 20-sport event is expected to reach more than 800 million households in about 78 countries.

    He is also encouraged by ticket sales, saying they are “going well”, with sport session sales “progressing in line with expected projections”.

    Commenting on the speedy delivery of the games since Baku was awarded the event in December 2012, he told the EOC’s executive committee and conference delegates: “We have worked tirelessly to turn that dream into a reality and together with the government and Azerbaijan NOC we have nurtured it and brought it to life.”

    James MacLeod, Baku 2015’s director of athlete services and operations, updated the NOC representatives on the latest progress.

    A total of 5898 athletes from all 50 NOCs will compete at the games. The average team size is 115 athletes. He said this figure was challenging for NOCs, many of whom don’t have that many athletes at the Olympics.

    “We will be relying on your administrative support,” he told delegates.

    Key Dates Ahead

    June 3 Athletes arrival

    June 8 Official opening of athletes’ village

    June 11 Athletes welcome ceremony 18:00

    June 12 Opening ceremony – to be attended by more than 26 heads of state and government leaders and 35 sports ministers. Athletes walk 1.7 km from the village to stadium to take part in athletes parade

    June 12 Synchronized swimming and water polo preliminaries are first events of the Games

    June 13 Women’s mountain bike is first medal of Baku 2015

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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